At last week’s meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman was a lonely voice against a nonbinding resolution, eventually passed by the court, affirming that Dallas County call on county law enforcement to “end nonessential collaborations with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
Kleinman, fearing that the resolution would get the county labeled as a sanctuary for noncitizens, urged the court to drop the provision about law enforcement so as not to make the city of Dallas a target for federal or state funding cuts. Kleinman didn’t sway county’s commissioners or Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who passed the resolution as proposed. On Monday Kleinman began an effort that seeks to insulate the city from county policy.
Near the tail-end of an otherwise nondescript committee meeting laying out the city’s legislative priorities during the 115th Congress in Washington, Kleinman asked his fellow members of the city’s ad hoc legislative committee to tack on a resolution to Dallas’ priorities making it clear that the city wasn’t too keen on the county’s actions last week.
After a preamble asserting that the city of Dallas embraces all of its residents, Kleinman’s resolution goes on to say that the city has not “adopted, enforced or endorsed an ordinance, policy or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of federal immigration law.” Additionally, the proposed addition to the city’s legislative program calls for the federal government to increase funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that “[ICE] officers can respond to local requests for assistance in a timely manner.”
Kleinman’s proposal drew fire from both directions. Council member Rickey Callahan, who represents a majority-Latino district in Pleasant Grove, said that the resolution was too soft. Pointing to Kleinman’s line about the city’s opposition to “ban[ning] people from specific countries,” as President Donald Trump’s administration attempted to do with the executive order that’s now stalled in federal court, Callahan said he wanted to protect Dallas’ security.
Council member Scott Griggs asked Ralph Garboushian, the city’s chief lobbyist, for an official definition of a sanctuary city. Garboushian couldn’t provide one, of course, because there isn’t one.
“This all seems so nebulous,” Griggs complained, before asking that Kleinman’s proposal, and a yet-to-be- released competing resolution from Griggs and Adam Medrano, be considered by the whole city council on Feb. 22.
Kleinman and the rest of the legislative committee agreed, setting up what’s likely to be a pretty decent fight in Dallas council chambers in a week and a half.