The D.C. Council took a strong stand on illegal immigration enforcement Tuesday. All 13 council members signed a bill that would bar local police officers from helping federal officials round up illegal immigrants, with the exception of extreme cases.
While D.C. already is a "sanctuary city," the new law would make it clear where the city stands.
Federal immigration enforcement officials round up and deport tens of thousands of illegal immigrants each year. Under a federal secure communities program, they try to get local law enforcement to help by detaining illegal immigrants even on minor charges.
The law supported by all council members would prevent D.C. police from participating except in extreme cases of violent criminals or other serious crimes.
The federal program is costly and undermines community cooperation with police and public safety, city leaders said.
The District could face push back from federal officials or Congress, which oversees the city budget, but local civil rights activists said the tough stance should be applauded. ACLU Director Johnny Barnes said the action bolsters a recent move by Mayor Vincent Gray to reassert the city's hands-off approach.
The council will hold a hearing on the immigration bill to hear from police and other interested groups.