Does Vt. meet federal requirements on immigration enforcement?

Published: Nov. 17, 2017 at 5:30 PM EST
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New answers about why the state of Vermont thinks it's toeing the line with the feds over immigration policy.

State officials say recent changes to policing policies are compliant with federal law.

Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, insisted Thursday the state meets federal immigration policy requirements despite a warning letter from the feds. But he offered no explanation why.

The governor's office referred questions to Attorney General T.J. Donovan, so we asked him to explain. Donovan says the state is telling law enforcement officers not to ask about immigration status but it does not prevent them from sharing information if they have it.

"What we're saying in the state is, 'Hey, local law enforcement, you don't have to ask.' So it's essentially, don't ask, but you can tell," said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Donovan says the fair and impartial policing policy updated this year provides cover for the state. That's because it clarifies that federal law supersedes any policy or law the state has implemented.

Burlington also got a letter from the feds and the mayor also said he believes the city is in compliance. Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, made a case very similar to the state. He says the city began reviewing its policy shortly after the president's election because a challenge was expected. And just like the state, he believes they are compliant because the policy does not prohibit city officers from sharing information they may learn. The mayor says the policy is aimed at civil violations and the city fully cooperates with federal authorities in serious criminal matters.