West Palm Beach, Justice Department reach settlement in immigration fight

Uncategorized

Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens to law enforcement officers speak during a roundtable meeting on sanctuary cities hosted by President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 20. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

West Palm Beach and the federal government have agreed to settle their legal fight over immigration, according to court documents.

The city was one of 23 jurisdictions targeted by the Justice Department in January as part of its efforts to withhold funding from “sanctuary” cities and counties that have policies it determines protect illegal immigrants.

In response, West Palm Beach officials filed suit and asked a federal judge to declare the city’s policies to be legal.

Court documents state the city and the Justice Department have until Friday to finalize “a settlement in principle.” Details have not been made public.

Both city and Justice Department officials declined to comment Monday.

The lawsuit filed in federal court last month accused the Justice Department of “erroneous and recurring harassment of the city and its officials based upon wrongly perceived non-compliance.” Justice Department officials, though, say they were just trying to verify the city was complying with its stance on immigration.

West Palm Beach adopted a resolution last year declaring itself to be a “welcoming city” for immigrants. About 27 percent of the city’s population is foreign born.

The measure prohibits city employees from asking about a person’s immigration status or assisting in an immigration investigation. In their suit, the city’s attorneys said that the policy states clearly that it doesn’t bar employees from sharing information if required by state or federal law.

Justice officials said cities need to show they are in compliance with immigration laws to be eligible for grants that pay for everything from bulletproof vests to police officer overtime.

One of these grant programs — the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant — provided more than $400,000 to the West Palm Beach Police Department over the past five years.

Other cities targeted by the Justice Department included New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

sswisher@sunsentinel.com, 561-243-6634 or @SkylerSwisher

Source Article