Mayor says Madison is not a sanctuary city

Soglin asks departments for no increase from 2016 budget
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said a 2010 resolution directing city police not to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents about illegal immigrants unless they’re charged with violent crime is why Madison is not a sanctuary city.

“We do not completely avoid telling ICE the status of an individual when there’s a serious crime,” Soglin said. “When there’s an arrest that does not make an assault, we make no judgement. We do not pass on any information.”

Unlike Madison, the 200 Sanctuary Cities across America have passed explicit laws banning officers from detaining suspects based solely on ICE requests.

Much of the current debate was sparked by San Fransisco authorities ignoring ICE’s request to hold undocumented Mexican felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who is now changed in 32-year-old Kate Steinle’s murder.

While some critics say Madison’s policy is a deception encouraging illegal immigration, Madison immigration lawyer Huma Ahsan’s clients also do not see Madison as a sanctuary city.

“ICE could come in at any time, come to any kind of proceeding, any type of hearing, and say ‘Hey, let me see your papers,'” Ahsan said.

That’s because the Dane County Sheriff’s Office operates Madison’s jail.

“During the booking process, everyone is asked to declare a country of citizenship. ICE has full access to that information and can potentially put a hold on an inmate that is in the U.S. illegally,” DCSO public information officer Elise Schaffer said. “However, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office will not keep an inmate past their legal time required to stay in jail for the purpose of an ICE hold.”

To the critics, the mayor said this is how a caring community cares for those who make productive contributions.

“We see these people as an asset. We want them to be here to contribute and we don’t want to disrupt that relationship. We don’t want to destroy families,” Soglin said. “It just seems to me, and clearly to a majority of Madisonians, that if they should be here illegally that is not a proportional response to deport them.”