Franklin County is NOT a sanctuary county, but the details are where things get sticky

March 7 – Let’s reiterate the first part of that headline – Franklin County is NOT a sanctuary county. 

There are no policies in place that spend county tax dollars to help illegal immigrants coming into Franklin County. 

At all. 

Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery said that the county works closely with ICE, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to follow the proper protocol for illegal immigrants in the county. 

The initial talk of Franklin County being a sanctuary county came from the fact that Franklin County, Ohio, is a sanctuary county and the rumors got stirred up on social media. 

Again, at yesterday’s Franklin County Commissioners’ meeting, the commissioners point-blank said this is not a sanctuary county. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Now the social media idiots that are out there seem to think they know better. I thought we nailed this down yesterday about sanctuary county, where it came from. It doesn’t exist. Whoever it is to blame, I guess is long gone at this point. But can you please help those less fortunate with less than a brain between their ears understand and push away from the keyboard about what the reality is with the sanctuary county stuff again, please.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “The county also issued a press release yesterday. In addition to what was said at the meeting, there was a press release, saying that Franklin County does not have sanctuary status.”

Again, Franklin County is not a sanctuary county. 

But when you dig a little deeper into the details, that’s where things get murky. 

Barkdoll continued, “The genesis of this is the interface between the county jail and ICE, that’s the federal body that would have to enforce the laws that they would come pick up an illegal immigrant that’s in the jail to take them then to a federal facility in York to initiate deportation proceedings. My understanding is Franklin County follows a protocol that they do keep that person in jail. The county jail immediately notifies ICE. ICE has 72 hours to come pick the person up.”

Nine times out of 10, the illegal immigrant is picked up by ICE. But it’s that one time that could cause a bit of a stir. 

Barkdoll said, “There’s where this rub is. I think some of these interest groups that have put Franklin County on the sanctuary list, they’re arguing that if the person is not picked up that Franklin County is quote unquote, sanctuary, because the person is then just let out.”

Keep in mind, all of this is beyond the control of the county commissioners. They cannot make edicts to ICE. If ICE doesn’t show up, they have to release the immigrant. 

Barkdoll said, “So here would be just a real world example. Let’s say Friday night there is an illegal immigrant picked up in downtown Chambersburg on a minor charge, let’s say it’s a public drunkenness charge and they take him out to the jail. The jail calls ICE and the conversation from ICE is probably we are swamped right now. We’re not interested in that low level crime. We’re telling you now we’re not come out to get the guy, so in 72 hours, you’re going to have to just let him out. Well, that doesn’t make Franklin County quote unquote, sanctuary. We can’t control what the federal government may not be doing, as the case may be. But in many other cases, that same defendant in the jail with a higher level of crime, absolutely, ICE will come get them, take them to York and they start deportation proceedings.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “This all does have to do with definitions. I guess you can have an area in the country that says well, we’re going to hold on no matter what. But it really becomes a problem because there are federal courts who said these are requests, they’re not mandatory and the commissioners just agreed and said that we have a policy that agrees with that. That’s really all they did. We’re not a welcoming community. We don’t provide services to illegal aliens through our taxes here in the county. That’s not what this is about. So it really does come down to what your definition is of a sanctuary county and they were kind of unfairly lambasted for something that Franklin County, Ohio did. It’s a difference of attitude and application as much as its policy.”

Ryan said, “I don’t want to beat this thing to death anymore. I just wanted this thing done. Are we said and done with this at this point? Because if I see more keyboard warriors, or if I see more nonsense out of those who think they know, are we set with this thing, said and done?”

Barkdoll said, “In many ways, yes. But here’s where the heartburn I think comes in for the commissioners because they’re clearly concerned about this. Those agencies or outside interest groups that continue to list Franklin County, PA as a sanctuary municipality, I wonder if behind the scenes are the commissioners reaching out to those organizations saying get us off that list? Because for practical purposes, yes, it’s done. But as long as Franklin County keeps showing up on those lists, even though it may be erroneous, there’s still going to be that narrative out there that Franklin County is providing sanctuary status. So I wonder if the commissioners or their staff are trying to reach those interest groups to say, hey, get us off that list and who knows where that’ll go?”

Ryan added, “Dean said that yesterday, we are working.” 

Jansen suggested, “You’d have to get that CIS group to change its definition of a sanctuary municipality and include it even if there’s just a resolution that says anything. It’s the lowest level definition of what a sanctuary could be. Because they’re a pro legal immigration group, they’re activists, they have a position to push, that’s why they do it.”

“I’m just sick and tired of this whole thing,” Ryan said.

Barkdoll noted, “One other point I’ll add is getting back to my public drunkenness example, and someone could say, well, if ICE doesn’t pick him up, well, the county should just keep him in jail. He’s here illegally. That’s going to be unconstitutional. I mean, the county government does not have the authority to enforce federal deportation laws and if they held the guy beyond the 72 hours, merely on grounds that he’s here illegally, that’s going to create a whole other set of problems for the county government. So it’s a real dilemma and my guess is this kind of scenario is happening in places all over the country.”

But once more, with feeling, so hopefully all will understand – when it comes to the official record, Franklin County IS NOT a sanctuary county.