The Florida city across the intercoastal from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home settled a months-long legal dispute with the Department of Justice over immigration policies.
West Palm Beach dropped a lawsuit that it had filed in February against the Justice Department after being threatened with subpoenas over so-called sanctuary city policies, The Hill reported.
The Justice Department threatened West Palm Beach and 22 other jurisdictions in January, citing them for not having policies in place that allow cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officers. The Florida City countered with a lawsuit in February, contending that it was not in violation of any federal law.
According to The Hill:
The settlement requires the city to send a memo to its employees saying that its policies do not preclude local officials from sharing information with the Department of Homeland Security.
In turn, the Justice Department said it will notify the city that there is no evidence that it is not complying with Section 1373, a federal law promoting cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Last year, West Palm Beach had adopted a resolution calling it a “welcoming city” for immigrants, and banned city employees from helping federal immigration agents, according to The Hill. But the settlement, according to one official, comes as the city wanted to avoid “a loss in the courts” in the wake of the Trump administration’s suing of California.
“Since the Trump Administration sued California for their sanctuary policies, California jurisdictions are tripping over themselves to create distance from Governor Brown’s dangerous policies, and now West Palm Beach is instructing its employees to cooperate with ICE in order to avoid a loss in the courts,” an administration official said Tuesday, according to The Hill.
But West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio slammed the line of thinking, angry at the official’s remarks.
“That could not be further from the truth,” she said at a news conference, according to The Palm Beach Post. “I’m deeply disappointed in the Department of Justice,” adding that it was far from the tone of the negotiations. “It is absolutely not true.”
“We felt like we were on good grounds to win the lawsuit,” she told The Hill on Tuesday. “We didn’t capitulate because we thought we were going to lose.”
She claimed that Tuesday’s memo to city employees just reinforced policies in place already that require cooperation with state and federal law.
“We don’t collect immigration information,” she said. “We never have and we will not. That’s the purview of the federal government.”