Park City affirms, ‘with certainty,’ it is not a sanctuary city
President’s executive order does not threaten municipal funding
Park City leaders have for more than 20 years attempted to nurture a relationship with the Latino community, which began arriving in large numbers in the 1990s.
But it is not a sanctuary city, municipal officials contended this week as the Trump administration announced it would take action against the nation’s so-called sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city is a place where local law enforcement essentially refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.
Wade Carpenter, the police chief in Park City, said the Police Department does not actively enforce federal immigration laws. Park City officers, though, work closely with the state attorney general and contact federal immigration officials if it is necessary that they be involved in a case.
“I can tell you with certainty Park City is not a sanctuary city,” the police chief said.
When the Police Department arrests someone on a separate criminal count who is later found to be in violation of federal immigration laws, Carpenter said, the police contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The police rely on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to decide how a case proceeds. He said the Police Department would pursue someone in the country illegally if the person is suspected in other crimes, such as those “individuals who are preying on their own community . . . or our community in general.”
President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order centered on public safety and immigration that targets sanctuary cities. One of the points in the order ends federal funding to sanctuary cities. Park City receives wide-ranging federal assistance. Carpenter, as an example, said the Police Department receives federal grants to assist in purchasing bulletproof vests.
Trump’s hardline immigration platform worried some in the Park City area’s Latino community during the campaign. There is anxiety that the Trump administration will broaden deportations and, generally, make it more difficult for the Latino community. It is estimated up to 25 percent of the Park City population is Latino.
“We are not a sanctuary city. We have not changed our policing style,” Carpenter said.
An event was organized in December in the Snyderville Basin amid concerns about the impact of the incoming administration on the area’s Latinos. The gathering, held largely in Spanish, centered on immigration laws, but there appeared to be an undercurrent of concern about a Trump administration.
One of the key messages from City Hall in December, though, was that it did not intend to alter the way it conducted business regarding immigration issues. Mayor Jack Thomas addressed the December event, telling the crowd that there might be concern. The mayor, though, said the municipal government would support and serve Latinos. City Hall, he said, would not intimidate the Latino community.
In a December interview, meanwhile, Thomas said Park City is “welcoming and compassionate” to the Latino community and that city officials do not “make an extra effort seeking out those who are undocumented.” The mayor said City Hall does not have the time, resources or the mandate to do so.
The Latino community arrived in the Park City areas in large numbers starting in the 1990s. They were drawn by a hot economy and plentiful employment opportunities in the construction, lodging, restaurant and resort industries.
Sheriff Justin Martinez, a Democrat, meanwhile, said Summit County is not a sanctuary county. The Sheriff’s Office receives minimal federal funding, he said.
Martinez said the Sheriff’s Office does not report each misdemeanor case involving an illegal immigrant to the federal authorities. Cases involving serious charges like homicide, drug trafficking and human trafficking would be reported to federal immigration officials, he said.
“We have every intent to continue law enforcement operations as we have done,” the sheriff said.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.