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Clarkston officials adopt new policy on Immigration Enforcement, allege threats

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Clarkston officials adopt new policy on Immigration Enforcement, allege threats

Photo illustration obtained via https://www.ice.gov/

Photo illustration obtained via https://www.ice.gov/

The Clarkston City Council on May 2 voted unanimously to only detain people at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement if the agency has a valid warrant.

Council members Mario Williams and Beverly Burks alleged that prior to the vote, ICE officials warned against adopting the new policy.

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Councilperson Williams said ICE officials threatened to disrupt federal funding to the city and to put Clarkston on a list for not cooperating with officials. Recently, ICE has been arresting undocumented immigrants in Clarkston and elsewhere, but ICE officials have denied conducting any “special operation” in the city.

Williams said the alleged threat raised suspicion about ICE’s enforcement methods.

“It paints a dark cloud and a dark picture of what you’re actually doing and the manner you’re going about doing it,” Williams said.

Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE, confirmed the meeting but disputed that officials with the agencies threatened city officials.

“All that our folks simply did was advise them if they take that action that ICE headquarters could potentially classify them as a sanctuary city,” he said, adding those decisions are not made at the local level.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently threatened to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities,” but a federal judge has blocked President Trump’s executive order that would cut off money going to these cities.

The city of Clarkston’s new policy says the city will not detain any individual at the request of ICE unless the agency presents the city with a valid warrant. The new policy says, “City law enforcement officials shall not arrest, detain, extend the detention of, transfer custody of, or transport anyone solely on the basis of an ICE ‘detainer request’ or an ‘administrative immigration warrant,’ including an administrative immigration warrant in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.”

To read the full resolution, click here.

Councilperson Burks said the warning from ICE was unsettling, but said Clarkston needed to act to protect its immigrant community. The city is well known for accepting thousands of immigrants and refugees.

“It’s not a nice feeling to be put on a naughty list or be told you’ll be on a naughty list when you’re a grown woman,” Burks said. “You have to stop to think about what’s really important, and who is important. … I live in a beautiful community with such a diverse background. We have to do what we have to do.”

Editor’s note: Portions of this report were compiled by viewing a live video stream of the Clarkston City Council meeting. 

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