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Feds Threaten To Strip Funding For West Palm Beach Over 'Welcoming City' Policy

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Peter Haden
/
WLRN
West Palm Beach City Commission hears comments from citizens on a proposal to declare West Palm Beach a "Welcoming City" for immigrants on Mar. 27, 2017.

The Department of Justice last month issued letters to 29 jurisdictions across the country with policies it believes create so-called “sanctuary cities.”

One letter was bound for a city in Florida: West Palm Beach.

D.O.J. is threatening to withhold federal law enforcement grant money over these jurisdictions’ possible non-compliance with a federal law that prohibits policies that restrict the sharing of “information regarding . . . citizenship or immigration status.”

At issue is a resolution the city commission passed in March designating West Palm Beach as a “Welcoming City.” It bars city employees — including police — from inquiring into a person’s immigration status or disclosing it to others.

The letter gave the city until last Friday to respond, showing it is in compliance with federal immigration law.

But city officials say the resolution only sets a policy for staff to follow. That’s not the same as an ordinance, which establishes a law. So, they say, this is a non-issue.

“We responded to the DOJ's letter in a timely fashion.’ West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said in a statement Friday. “We believe that our resolution is in full compliance with federal law.”