Attention nationwide has been turned to immigration policies after a man who had previously been deported five times, was charged with murdering a young woman in San Francisco, a so-called "immigration sanctuary city."
Now, leaders in two local cities in Central Florida said they have been mislabeled as immigration sanctuaries, which in turn is worrying residents.
"We're kind of shocked that we would be placed on the list. We had no idea we were on that list," said Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett.
"We received several phone calls Tuesday from residents. They were concerned," said Lee Lopez, the spokesperson for the city of Deltona.
Leaders in both cities said they were wrongly placed on lists of sanctuary cities on unofficial websites, one of which is run by an out-of-state law firm.
City attorneys from both Sanford and Deltona have contacted the websites' managers to have the names of their cities removed from the list.
Still, residents have voiced concerns about the confusion it's caused.
Triplett said the city has not noticed a spike in undocumented immigrants.
To be considered a "sanctuary city," leaders must adopt policies or pass ordinances to provide extra protection for undocumented immigrants. In some cities, that would mean undocumented immigrants would not go to prison just for their immigration status.
Leaders in both Sanford and Deltona said their cities have no such policies, and are therefore not sanctuary cities.
"We're not going to go out of our way to cloak-and-dagger to try and track down illegal aliens, but if you come in and you commit a crime, or do something that would represent you going to the jail, we're going to work within our legal boundaries," said Triplett, who added Sanford works with federal guidelines.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security, issued this statement Thursday:
The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of implementing a new initiative called the Priority Enforcement Program — PEP for short — which supports community policing while ensuring ICE takes custody of dangerous criminals before they are released into the community.
Leaders in both Deltona and Sanford said despite what can be found on unofficial websites, the Priority Enforcement Program is in line with their current operation, and they hope to be taken off of the inaccurate online lists soon.
Other cities in Florida named as alleged "sanctuary cities" include De Leon Springs, Jupiter, Lake Worth and Miami.