Maine’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, is almost as good as Donald Trump when it comes to getting under the skin of confused liberals. We can’t say with any certainty whether or not he’s actually good at his job – we’ll leave that for his constituents to decide – but he definitely knows how to grab the headlines. This week, he enraged the left with a letter he sent to law enforcement officials in his state. In it, LePage made it clear that any sheriff who refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities would be answering to the governor’s office.
“Should any citizen of Maine notify me of any undocumented, illegal alien who was detained and released by a Maine Sheriff following a written United States Customs Enforcement request the alien be detained pending federal enforcement action, I will commence the specific process afforded me under the Maine State Constitution Article IX Section 10,” LePage wrote.
The cited reference is LePage’s authority to fire county sheriffs who disobey a direct order from the governor. In other words, LePage is telling sheriffs in Maine: If you want to make your county a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants, you can find yourself another job.
It is not, apparently, a letter written just for the whimsy of it. It is a direct response to Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who told ICE earlier this month that he would not comply with detainer requests sent to him without an accompanying warrant.
“I’m not putting the taxpayers of Cumberland County at risk for holding somebody that we could be left holding the bag on,” Joyce said. “So if you think you’ve got something, get a warrant. We’ll honor the warrant.”
In an interview with the Bangor Daily News, Sheriff Joyce said he was not taking an ideological position against ICE or the deportation of illegal immigrants. Rather, he said, he was acting in accordance with his understanding of federal law.
“I would suggest I am following the law and one of the things we have to do is uphold the Constitution,” he said. “Some people believe that anybody that’s not a U.S. citizen doesn’t have constitutional rights when they do.”
When asked about some of the pushback he’d gotten from various county sheriffs, however, Governor LePage was unmoved by the response.
“Tell them to read the Constitution,” LePage told Portland’s WCSH 6.