Fox News falsely claimed that new ICE official Harold Hurtt is "a sanctuary city supporter" who doesn't "believe in immigration enforcement," since he has expressed concerns about local police "in the field" enforcing immigration law, concerns that are widely held among law enforcement leaders. In fact, Houston under Chief Hurtt was not a "sanctuary city," according Fox's own definition, and he has reportedly said that in his role at ICE, "he will support local law enforcement agencies' decision to participate in any ICE program of their choosing, even if it involves questioning suspects on the street about their status."
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Fox calls Hurtt a "supporter of sanctuary cities," which "do not check for immigration papers"
Hemmer: Hurtt "is an outspoken supporter of sanctuary cities; those are the towns that do not check for immigration papers." From the June 25 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
HEMMER: The White House's pick for a key role at ICE, that's the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, creating a bit of controversy. That's because Harold Hurtt's a former police chief in Houston and in Phoenix, is an outspoken supporter of sanctuary cities; those are the towns that do not check for immigration papers. Now, for ICE Hurtt will oversee and promote partnerships between federal and local officials.
Fox & Friends: Hurtt does not "believe immigration enforcement." Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson stated that Hurtt "is a sanctuary city supporter. And some people are raising the question, how can you head up the office of immigration enforcement if you don't believe in immigration enforcement?"
Doocy defined a "sanctuary city" as a city that does not check one's documentation if "you're involved in a police activity or something like that." Co-host Steve Doocy stated that a sanctuary city is "where if you live there and you're in the country illegally or you're undocumented and you're involved in a police activity or something like that, the police are not going to ask you papers, papers, papers, please":
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: Let's talk about this because it's going to be a really controversial thing. You know the organization ICE, which stands for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination -
KILMEADE: Hence we use the term ICE.
CARLSON: No kidding. Anyway, it's all about immigration and apparently we have a new director now. The guy, Harold Hurtt, former police chief of Houston and Phoenix, but here's the controversial part; he is a sanctuary city supporter. And some people are raising the question, how can you head up the office of immigration enforcement if you don't believe in immigration enforcement?
DOOCY: Yeah so if you don't know what a sanctuary city is, that's where if you live there and you're in the country illegally or undocumented and you're involved in a police activity or something like that, the police are not going to ask you papers, papers, papers, please. So what has happened now is for this to be the president's point person, Curtis Collier of U.S. Border Watch says, can you head up an office if you don't believe in what the office is supposed to do? He makes a good point.
In fact, Houston cooperated with ICE when Hurtt was serving as police chief
Hurtt said that at ICE, he will support local decisions on enforcement of immigration. The Houston Chronicle reported on June 23 that Hurtt, who served as Houston's police chief from 2004 through 2009 and was selected to be the director of the Office of State and Local Coordination at ICE, expressed "concerns" about "officers in the field" asking about immigration status, citing "resource capabilities," and concerns that fewer members of immigrant communities would "com[e] forward to report crime." The Chronicle further reported:
Hurtt said that in his new role, he will support local law enforcement agencies' decision to participate in any ICE program of their choosing, even if it involves questioning suspects on the street about their status.
"That's a decision that needs to be made at a local level," he said.
ICE official in 2006: "Houston is not a sanctuary city, by the definition." The Houston Chronicle reported on June 30, 2006, that Bob Rutt, the agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston, said that "Houston police notify ICE when officers arrest people wanted by ICE. He said officers also call his agency when they suspect violent criminals might be in the country illegally, and they help out on some criminal operations." The article further stated:
The department also flags criminal cases involving illegal immigrants when they are sent to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, so ICE agents can determine whether arrestees are in the country legally.
"Houston is not a sanctuary city, by the definition," Rutt told the Houston Chronicle on Saturday. "They do cooperate with us."
Houston police are "required to check the warrant status of everyone who is ticketed, arrested or jailed - if they fail to show proper ID," and "ICE officials" are "given full access to city jails and information collected by HPD." Contrary to Doocy's claim that Houston was a "sanctuary city" because those "involved in a police activity" are not asked about their legal status, Houston police are reportedly required to check with federal immigration authorities about "everyone who is ticketed, arrested or jailed--if they fail to show proper ID." From a December 23, 2007, Houston Chronicle article:
Twice in the past two years, Mayor Bill White has tightened the city's policy on dealing with suspected illegal immigrants:
Under the city's revised policy, officers are required to check the warrant status of everyone who is ticketed, arrested or jailed - if they fail to show proper ID.
Those arrested for Class B misdemeanors or more serious crimes are booked into jail and asked whether they are U.S. citizens.
ICE officials were given full access to city jails and information collected by HPD.
Officers are required to notify ICE of any suspects with outstanding immigration warrants and previously deported felons.
Under Hurtt, police could "fingerprint suspects held for traffic violations or other minor crimes" for immigration status. Voice of America News reported on October 2, 2006, (accessed via Nexis), that Houston adopted a new policy under which officers could "fingerprint suspects held for traffic violations or other minor crimes to see if they are wanted by federal authorities for defying deportation orders or have been previously deported for criminal activity." The article stated that "The previous policy did not allow officers to inquire about immigration status unless the person they had detained was suspected of a serious crime."
Hurtt in 2006: ICE will have "full access to the Houston police department, county jail, city jail." During the October 5, 2006, edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Hurtt said the police department does not have the resources to "be stopping individuals on the streets" to question them about their immigration status. He also stated:
HURTT: Anybody that we come across that is going to be booked into our jail or either the county jail, Harris County Jail and they've been arrested by the Houston police department, we're going to be asking them, were you born in the U.S. and are you a U.S. citizen?
Depending on their response, we'll put that into the booking blotter and now ICE, that is Immigration Custom Enforcement have full access to the Houston police department, county jail, city jail, and they'll be able to go in, look at those booking slips and take whatever action they deem necessary with those individuals."
Hurtt's concerns about use of local police to enforce immigration law are widely held among law enforcement leaders. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, which includes the Chiefs of "the 56 largest municipal police departments" in the U.S., has stated that "[i]mmigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities", and "[e]nforcement of federal immigration laws would be a burden that most major police agencies would not be able to bear under current resource levels." A May 2009 report by the Police Foundation also noted that "local law enforcement executives ... say immigration enforcement by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities already distrustful of police."