Pennsylvania County Tries to Lock Out ICE
By David Jaroslav | FAIR Take | March 2020
Sanctuary jurisdictions from California, Oregon and Washington to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts are all trying to keep Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from making arrests in their local courthouses. The latest development in this trend comes from Pennsylvania – not from Philadelphia which would be expected, but from Northampton County, which is a historically blue-collar part of the Lehigh Valley not previously known for aggressively trying to obstruct immigration enforcement.
On March 3, an ICE agent arrested illegal-alien Franklin Urrutia-Cordon at the Northampton County Courthouse. Urrutia-Cordon was in the courthouse for a hearing on his DUI case. His lawyer immediately protested his arrest. Less than a day later, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure (D) issued an executive order aimed at dramatically restricting ICE’s ability to take custody of illegal aliens in the county claiming, “[n] one will be permitted to be arrested in this courthouse by the federal government without a warrant from a federal judge.”
However, McClure’s order does not even address situations like ICE’s arrest of Urrutia. Rather, it says the county’s law enforcement agencies will honor immigration detainers by holding illegal aliens for up to 48-hours after they are released on local criminal charges but will not transfer them to ICE unless officials are presented with a warrant signed by a federal judge or magistrate. This is a ruse used by sanctuary jurisdictions to release aliens back into the community since “judicial immigration warrants” do not exist under federal law, making it impossible for ICE to provide them
ICE reiterated that requiring “judicial immigration warrants” is “simply a way for those who wish to undermine immigration enforcement to justify their ill-conceived sanctuary policies that put politics before public safety by shielding violent criminals from law enforcement.” It is much safer for ICE to take aliens into custody in a jail or courthouse since they have already been screened for weapons.
Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) described McClure’s order as “incoherent” and suggested “the county executive has no idea what he is doing.”
Conversely, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) thinks the order still doesn’t go far enough in attempting to protect illegal aliens from ICE.
McClure says he anticipates litigation over his order. This may be the unusual case where a local government actually takes heat from both sides of the issue.
Meanwhile, State Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia) announced that she will be introducing anti-sanctuary legislation. Pennsylvanians may want to look to their state lawmakers to end reckless, confusing and dangerous local sanctuary policies across the Keystone State.