The police services of two major Canadian cites are refusing to say whether they are co-operating with federal law enforcement when it comes to deportations.
City councils in Toronto and Hamilton voted to declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The move was aimed at offering social services from welfare to childcare to people in the country without proper authority.
What remains unclear is whether police services in those cities are willing to assist with deportation orders from the Canadian Border Services Agency.
The issue arose after it was revealed that the man behind the shooting of a 32 year-old woman in San Francisco last week had been deported to Mexico five times and was wanted by American federal officials. But under rules adopted by San Francisco, also a sanctuary city, local law enforcement will not co-operate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers unless required to do so by court order.
Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez was in custody in San Francisco but released in April despite a “detainer order” from ICE.
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has defended his decision to simply release Sanchez saying in response to criticism, he was required not to inform federal officials.
Contacted by The Rebel, police in Toronto and Hamilton are not saying what their policy is. At time of writing Toronto had not responded to questions put them by phone and email.
An official with Hamilton police issued a brief and unclear statement.
“The Hamilton Police Service works within the confines of the Criminal Code as well as our Charter and will continue to serve all members of our community regardless of their documented status,” wrote Catherine Martin of the communications branch in an email.
A request for comment from the office of Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger has not been returned.
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, whose department oversees CBSA and the deportation process, said in an email that all laws need to be followed.
“We expect that those who are found to be inadmissible and have exhausted due process respect Canadian law and leave the country as soon as possible. There are no safe havens from the law anywhere in Canada,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue.
Sanctuary cities can act as magnets for illegal immigrants. Sanchez, who in addition to his five deportations also has several felony criminal convictions, admitted in a jailhouse interview that he sought out places like San Francisco because he knew he would not be deported.
Toronto is estimated to have at least 200,000 illegal immigrants according activists that pushed for the adoption of the sanctuary city policy.
In 2011 it was revealed that dozens of wanted criminals, including those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity were in Canada. Federal officials originally refused to reveal their names to the public.
Since releasing those names many have been turned over to border officials and removed from the country.
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