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"Sanctuary cities" illegal in Missouri, get mixed reaction from city leaders

"Sanctuary cities" get mixed reaction from city leaders

COLUMBIA, Mo. - ABC 17 News asked local leaders their thoughts on bringing "sanctuary" policies to mid-Missouri.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday pledging to strip any city, county or state with such policies of federal grant funding. The "sanctuary" distinction refers to a practice of denying an Immigration and Customs Reform request to keep someone a local jurisdiction arrested in custody on suspicion of their being in the country illegally. That person would be held in jail until they could post bond, if available.

Missouri lawmakers passed a statewide ban on "sanctuary" policies in 2009, restricting state grant funding to any municipality that restricts "communicating or cooperating with federal agencies" related to immigration.

Columbia city councilman Michael Trapp said he prefers local control over issues, but would not support a "sanctuary" policy in Columbia. He said immigration has not proven to be a noticeable issue in town yet, and would keep the city out of national politics. Any adoption of a policy would be only symbolic, Trapp said.

"The city has a very small to non-existent footprint in regards to illegal immigration," Trapp told ABC 17 News.

Trapp said he would not shy away from a vote on the issue, but believed the city had enough pressing, local matters to focus on rather than national issues that may invite more controversy.

Fellow city council member Laura Nauser also opposed such a policy. She said she was not aware of any effort to bring one up for consideration. She considered herself "pro-legal immigration."

"People who wish to become American citizens should not break the law as their first act of becoming a citizen," Nauser said.

While he did not take a position on the issue itself, Fourth Ward councilman Ian Thomas said "very concerned about the welfare of so-called 'undocumented' immigrants who live and work in our community, as are
several of [his] constituents."

ICE prioritizes its enforcement strategies based on the severity of the crime accused. A 2014 memo cited "limited resources" for its classification of how the agency should seek the removal of undocumented immigrants that end up in police custody, starting with those accused of terrorism. The highest priority also includes those involved in gang activity or convicted of a felony.

ABC 17 News requested the number of ICE detainer requests both the Columbia Police Department and Boone County Jail received in 2016.

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