On Thursday night — around the time the mayor of Miami-Dade County relented to pressure from the Trump administration about Miami-Dade’s designation of “sanctuary county” — Palm Beach County commissioners received an email from a “tax paying, registered democrat voting citizen” who urged them to follow the lead of their neighbor to the south.
“Insist that our county refrain from this unacceptable and embarrassing status!!!” Eileen Rose wrote. “Not only are you endangering the lives of law abiding legal immigrants and American Born citizens, and breaking the law, but you are now facing defunding of our county of federal money.”
There’s one problem.
“We never considered ourselves a sanctuary county,” Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam told The Palm Beach Post. “The board of county commissioners never took any action to make ourselves a sanctuary county.”
Van Arnam’s boss, County Administrator Verdenia Baker, reiterated the point Friday afternoon in an email to staff, commissioners and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
“Palm Beach County is not a sanctuary county,” Baker said. “Our sheriff follows the federal law as it relates to illegal immigrants that violate the law. Once a person is arrested and determined to be an illegal immigrant the sheriff notifies U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If a federal order is issued the detainee is held for ICE.”
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera told the Post in a statement that it’s Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s policy “to follow federal law as it relates to federal immigration detention requests. Furthermore, ‘PBC never has been or will be a sanctuary county’ per (Bradshaw.)”
President Trump said earlier this week sanctuary cities — locales that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities — could lose millions of federal dollars. Many cities are vowing legal action, arguing the threatened punishment would be unconstitutional. And some federal courts previously ruled cities or counties cannot hold immigrants beyond their jail terms or deny them bond based only a request from federal immigration authorities.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez now says his county would do just that.
“Right decison. Strong,” the president tweeted Friday morning.
Palm Beach County leaders were mixed.
“I believe the county should evaluate the new policy and take any necessary steps to ensure we are still eligible for federal funds,” Commissioner Steven Abrams said.
Colleague Dave Kerner said he doubts withholding federal money from cities and counties “is helpful,” adding, “attempting to force local jurisdictions to improperly enforce federal law is troubling. ”
Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay declined to comment, deferring to Bradshaw. Mayor Paulette Burdick and Commissioners Mack Bernard, Mary Lou Berger and Hal Valeche did not respond.
Some web pages’ lists of sanctuary cities list Jupiter and Lake Worth. Jupiter has said it’s never been one and might have been wrongly listed because El Sol, a nonprofit resource center that provides services for the area’s day laborers and their families, in the town.
Lake Worth has said it might be on list because it’s home to the nonprofit Guatemalan-Maya Center.
Andy Amoroso, a city commissioner since 2010, says he worries Lake Worth will lose money based on vague designations.
“There’s so much confusion,” Amoroso, on the board since 2010, said Friday. He said he believes some city leaders at some point made the statement informally. But he said the city’s never been able to find documentation of a vote or a formal city declaration.
“We can’t find anything that’s ever been done,” he said. “Now, we’ve fallen into, ‘well, it’s the president of the United States, you’re listed as a sanctuary city, we’re going to cut off all your funds.’”
Amoroso agreed with county’s Kerner that this is a federal issue.
“I want to say again, ‘what does sanctuary mean?’” Amoroso said. “Does it mean you’re going to pull a bus into Lake Worth and pick up all the brown people? I’ve got a problem with that. Anybody that doesn’t speak English you’re going to pick them up? I have a problem with that. If you are breaking the law in the city of Lake Worth you are going to jail. If you are undocumented, or something else, i don’t believe that’s in the (PBSO) purview. There’s people that do those jobs. That’s a federal thing.”