Homeland security secretary not rushing sanctuary designations, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Wednesday he feels confident the county will not be categorized by the federal government as a sanctuary to undocumented immigrants following a discussion with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Kelly said during a meeting of the Major County Sheriffs' Association in Washington that he would take his time and put a process in place to determine what constitutes a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction, according to Gualtieri. Cities and counties with the label could lose federal funding under an executive order signed last month by President Donald Trump.
"It's status quo," Gualtieri said. "They're not rushing out to do anything is the sense I got."
The executive order said the homeland security secretary is responsible for designating cities and counties as sanctuaries. Pinellas was thrust into the conversation when a report released in 2015 by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that favors stricter immigration policies, named the county as a sanctuary jurisdiction. Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando were also included in the list.
Sheriffs in each county spoke out against the designation, saying they cooperate with federal immigration authorities to notify and detain undocumented immigrants jailed for crimes at the request of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
"When they ask us to do things within the law," Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times, "we operate with them and their programs to help them take those that are illegal who have committed crimes . . . and get them out of here."