Dillon not a sanctuary city

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The City of Dillon is NOT a sanctuary city.

The Dillon City Council communicated that point as loudly as it could at its meeting last week with a unanimous vote in favor or a resolution “stating that the City of Dillon will not be classified as a Sanctuary City.”

“I know that I’m not the only one on this council who supports agriculture, which is dependent heavily on people coming from other countries to work. Does this—how does this affect that?” wondered Councilperson Mary Jo O’Rourke shortly after the opening of discussion on the matter at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

“First off…the City of Dillon, could not become a sanctuary city,” answered Mayor Mike Klakken, who then referred to Section 2 of HB 200—“An Act Prohibiting State Agencies and Local Governments From Enacting or Enforcing Certain Policies Concerning Citizenship and Immigration,” which was recently passed by the Montana Legislature.

“Mainly, what that would mean is it will not—it’s kind of like under the Section 2, the second paragraph, that if the federal government comes in and asks you to detain somebody that’s already been in holding, we’ve got to let them have them, detain them and let them come get ’em,” explained Klakken of how the resolution will compel the city to comply with requests from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Also, if somebody from the state or somebody else puts an ask in concerning the release of an individual that is lawfully made, you do have to comply with that, comply with the immigration detainer, so if somebody from ICE makes a request to have you hold somebody, then you have to comply with it,” added Klakken.

“Does law enforcement think there will be any significant changes?” asked O’Rourke.

“No. That’s what we do now,” responded Police Chief Don Guiberson.

“If there’s an illegal immigrant that we have or a criminal illegal immigrant we arrest and we do that, and that’s what this would continue to do,” said Guiberson.

“The way it looks like to me is, a lot of these cities will not uphold the federal guidelines and the federal laws and federal rules, and so I think what the city is doing is they’re just saying, ‘We’re not going to do that; we’re going to abide by the federal rules on holding people and stuff. It doesn’t change anything for us. It just says we will continue to do that.”

“That’s correct?” agreed Klakken.

“I just have a couple comments,” City Attorney Jim Dolan said.

“No. 1, about a year ago, I took my birthday off from the city and I was driving to Butte and I get a call and it’s one of the jailers and he thought a gentleman picked up was an INS hold that they really wanted—so, this does happen. This person was picked up in the city on a misdemeanor on a DUI, and the federal government really wanted this guy—he was a bad actor. So, I spent the afternoon on my birthday on my cell phone with a special agent, trying to figure out how we could accommodate that,” recalled Dolan.

“So, I do want the council to know, I just want something on record that this is something that does and can happen,” said Dolan.

“The only other comment I have to make, and I do want to make this one,” added Dolan, “under Subsection 2 of Section 2, it says, that ‘a state agency or local government may not be considered in violation of this section if solely on policy otherwise subject to Subsection 1 that exclusively concerns an individual who comes forward as a victim of or a witness to a criminal offense.’

“I think we need to be careful that we at least provide for that,” added Dolan.

“I think if we have somebody who is here maybe unlawfully but they’re the key to a crime—to solve a crime or to prosecute a crime—I think that maybe there ought to be some note of that in the policy.”

The police chief concurred with the city attorney’s analysis.

“It takes a lot for ICE to come get these people anyway. So, they’re usually at the point of releasing them a lot of times, too, unless they are the really bad actors,” said Guiberson.

“So, it’s not imperative that they are arrested and shipped off. It’s up to the federal government and the federal law enforcement. And I believe that is what this says—that we’ll just respond to the federal government,” asserted Guiberson.

“This won’t be a city where people can come and feel,” said the police chief, “they don’t have to worry about federal law enforcement.”

The mayor added that being considered a sanctuary city could also subtract from the city’s finances.

“And the fine if you’re caught is,” said Klakken, citing provisions in HB 200, “$10,000 for every five days.”

“And, also along with that, you don’t get to receive any grants or prioritization at the same time. So any grants you think you might be getting will all go away if they say you’re a sanctuary city.”