South Portland Backs Off Becoming Maine's 1st Sanctuary City

South Portland city councilors have backed away from a proposal to become Maine’s first sanctuary city.

City Councilor Eben Rose had proposed amendments that defined the South Portland Police Department’s role in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and deportations.

While Rose did not use the term “sanctuary city” in the amendments, he said his proposal would ensure that police officers were not “deputized” to enforce federal immigration law.

While there appeared to be some initial support for a proposal to keep local police from cooperating with ICE agents, city leaders ultimately drafted a resolution that reiterates current police practices: South Portland Police will not profile, or proactively ask about immigration status.

“It essentially codifies in resolution how we already operate,” said South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins.

City Councilors will vote on the resolution in an upcoming meeting. Rose said he is satisfied with the revisions to his proposal.

Another councilor, Susan Henderson, said it strikes a compromise.

“We can do the spirit of a sanctuary city, and still obey federal and local laws,” she said.

Councilors said one factor was the fear of losing $9.1 million in federal funding, should the Trump administration retaliate against sanctuary cities.

“The term sanctuary city would open up the city to not receiving federal money, and we don’t want to do that,” said Henderson.

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