SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said she has directed Salt Lake police to “not enforce any federal immigration” policy or have police ask an individual about their immigration status ahead of possible U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement roundups of undocumented citizens.
Biskupski first responded to someone on Twitter who had asked the mayor about her stance on the issue on Saturday, citing a Huffington Post article that noted mayors in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country had pledged to not comply with the possibility for increased ICE raids. Those mayors’ remarks came after President Donald Trump vowed in a tweet to launch a new crackdown on people living in the U.S. illegally.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets on June 17. “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!”
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that potential raid has been delayed two weeks to allow Congress enough time to work a solution for the U.S. border with Mexico.
However, Biskupski doubled down her stance in a pair of tweets on Sunday.
She wrote that she had told Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown more than two years ago that officers “would not enforce federal immigration policy or inquire about immigration status.”
“As Washington leaders threaten once again, we reiterate this pledge which helps keeps (sic) #SLC safe,” she continued. “#SLC’s policy ensures that immigrants in our community can feel comfortable engaging with SLCPD, including reporting crimes. Sowing fear in a community is no way to govern.”
Over two years ago @ChiefMikeBrown & I made it clear that SLCPD officers would not enforce federal immigration policy or inquire about immigration status. As Washington leaders threaten once again, we reiterate this pledge which helps keeps #SLC safe. pic.twitter.com/HjjnagQ5Ta— Jackie Biskupski (@jackiebiskupski) June 23, 2019
The tweets received mixed responses. Several applauded the decision while others opposed it, accusing Biskupski of picking and choosing which laws to follow. However, it was unclear how many of those responding were actual Salt Lake City residents.
Brown was out on vacation, but Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking reiterated the department's policy has remained the same the past few years. He explained Salt Lake police will make arrests based only if a local crime is committed. Once that individual is in jail, it's up to ICE to figure out if they want to put a detainer on them and not Salt Lake police's decision. The two agencies rarely have contact with each other, much like the agency wouldn't handle tax crimes the Internal Revenue Service typically oversees.
"We're pretty much staying the course in terms of how we handle the law here in Salt Lake," he said. "We're worried about the criminal complaints that come in and that doesn't have much to do about immigration enforcement. ICE is tasked with their job enforcing immigration and we're tasked with serving the community, keeping the community safe and responding to calls for service.
"If we're going to make an arrest on an individual, we're not asking for documentation," Wilking added. "We have to serve the citizens of Salt Lake and we have a tremendous responsibility in doing so, and that is a burden on our police department. We also don't have the time to do those kinds of investigations. That's why (ICE) is a separate agency and they have that mission."
Trump's initial tweet came on the heels of skyrocketing numbers of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. The agency reported more than 144,000 people were apprehended last month and that nearly 600,000 people had been apprehended since the start of the 2019 fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2018, which is already more than the previous fiscal year with four months left in FY19.
The data also shows that nearly two-thirds apprehended are either "family units" or an "unaccompanied alien child."
As for the future of the plan for more ICE raids, Trump tweeted on Sunday he will give Democratic leaders "every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes" to U.S.'s asylum laws.
"This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try," he added in the tweet. "Two weeks and big Deportation begins!"
Contributing: Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio