Dale Jackson: Decatur is still a sanctuary city, regardless of what the mayor and city council says
Is Decatur a sanctuary city? Legally? Technically? Not anymore, I guess, but it was.
Following the media attention generated by this policy enacted by the Decatur Police Department’s Chief of Police Nate Allen, there was back-and-forth between the chief, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling and the Decatur City Council. They have since come to an agreement on changes to a policy that was enacted on September 25 that Bowling said essentially made Decatur a “sanctuary city.”
Good job, everyone involved.
But that is where the good news ends.
The difference between the original policy and the new policy is minuscule at best.
The new policy still forbids officers from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without the permission of the chief of police unless there is active violence going on in the street or violence is expected.
Even that decision is cloaked in legal language:
5. Additionally, DPD may assist ICE agents when they anticipate or encounter violent resistence and/or with the approval of the Division Commander and Chief of Police.
The chief of police? The guy who wrote the first policy that all but forbid it?
The rest of the document leaves all the discretion in these matters up to the “Division Commander and Chief of Police.”
When Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling was discussing this on WVNN radio in Huntsville Wednesday morning, he made it clear that he was not happy with the original policy but found the revision of the policy to be within the law and something he could live with.
He was also asked if under this new policy would lead to a situation that mirrors a current controversy in Virginia where a police officer was suspended for turning a suspected illegal immigrant to ICE. Bowling acknowledged reporting the illegal immigrant to ICE would be a violation of policy for the City of Decatur.
— Rankstr (@rankstr) October 2, 2019
The end result of this new policy is pretty simple to understand. The city has not forbidden their officers from cooperating with ICE, they just discourage it.
So while Decatur may not be a “sanctuary city” like San Francisco, the current policies forbid officers from being proactive on this issue of identifying and reporting illegal immigrants who are committing crimes in their community.
Decatur, Alabama, is still a sanctuary city by another name.