Sheriff Rich Stanek, Chief Todd Axtell want out of Trump's order on immigration enforcement

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St. Paul Chief Todd Axtell, as well as Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, would rather not spend local police resources doing the feds' job. Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Immediately after Donald Trump won the presidency, sanctuary cities across the nation declared that they would rather risk losing federal aid than use their police forces to pry undocumented immigrants out from communities where they live and work peaceably.

Trump pushed forward, signing an executive order on January 25 criticizing sanctuary cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, which he says “willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.”

Trump described many as “criminals," and directed cities to "enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”

The heads of more than 60 law enforcement agencies, including Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and St. Paul Chief Todd Axtell, signed a letter to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, asking not to be punished for faling to spend limited local resources on federal immigration matters.

They suggest police focus on “threats such as dangerous criminals and criminal organizations causing harm,” while immigration would be better left to the feds.

“Local control has been a beneficial approach for law enforcement for decades – having the federal government compel state and local law enforcement to carry out new and sometimes problematic tasks undermines the delicate federal balance and will harm locally based, community-oriented policing,” the letter reads.

"Our immigration problem is a national problem deserving of a national approach, and we urge Congress to lead the way in working towards taking the necessary steps to fix our broken system through a permanent legislative solution. In so doing, we hope that this Committee will avoid taking actions that could harm community trust and make it harder for state and local law enforcement agencies to do our jobs.”

Stanek and Axtell are a part of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who is notably missing from the letter, nevertheless endorses the sentiments as well, a spokeswoman confirmed. Harteau is part of the task force through her role as a board member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.


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