- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2019

The D.C. Council will consider emergency legislation on Tuesday prohibiting city agencies from cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers without a warrant, an escalation of the clash with the Trump administration that Chairman Phil Mendelson said was consistent with the city’s approach “toward the federal government’s inability to deal with immigration.”

“The position of this government has been and continues to be that where there’s a criminal warrant, … then the [D.C.] government should respond, but on matters of civil detainers or requests by ICE, we are not going to implicate our law enforcement system,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, at a press briefing Monday. “It has the consequence of discouraging people from being involved in the law enforcement system.”

Council member Charles Allen, Ward 6 Democrat, introduced the Sanctuary Values Amendment Act of 2019 to address ICE’s policies to request to be notified of undocumented individuals’ release date from the Department of Correction (DOC), with an eye to asking the department to hold the individuals in custody in certain cases.

The law, which prohibits D.C. agencies from sharing information or cooperating with ICE officials and also prohibits ICE officials from entering city facilities, needs the votes of at least nine council members to bypass Congress as a piece of emergency legislation.

David Grosso, at-large independent, Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1 Democrat, and Elissa Silverman, at-large Democrat, introduced the measure and Mr. Mendelson said he planned to support it. But advocates for stricter immigration enforcement quickly denounced the measure.

“This is clearly political and has nothing to do with routine law enforcement operation,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, adding that if it were any other law enforcement agency, D.C. police would cooperate.

The D.C. Council on Tuesday also plans a final vote on the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2019, which serves as a guidance for the zoning commission when evaluating development projects.

With gentrification and the pressure on low-income housing on the rise across the city, Mr. Mendelson said that the legislation has been updated to include more language on equity, displacement and affordable housing. The bill also funds a study to explore increasing housing types in areas zoned for single-family, detached homes.

Mr. Mendelson also said he will announce Tuesday which Council members will serve on the ad hoc committee to review the law firm’s investigation into whether Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, adhered to the Council’s code of conduct.

He acknowledged that he will face criticism no matter who he puts on the committee, since the integrity of the Council itself is being scrutinized. The committee will have up to 90 days to review the investigation from the law firm, and can allow Mr. Evans to have a public hearing.

Mr. Mendelson said he anticipates that the investigation will be complete by the end of the month and will shortly be made available to the public.

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