NORTHEAST OHIO - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says immigrants have good reason to be concerned despite his pledge to help protect them from deportation.
President-elect Donald Trump vows to cut off tax dollars to any city which doesn't cooperate with federal agents.
Cleveland may not be among the estimated 300 jurisdictions which declare themselves sanctuary cities, but the Mayor says the city still behaves like one---limiting cooperation with Immigration and Customs officials.
"We're not an arm of the immigration authorities. We don't detain someone because they're an immigrant. Neither do we question them as to their immigration status," Jackson told the Investigator Tom Meyer.
Trump plans to clamp down on sanctuary cities by discontinuing federal funding to any city which doesn't assist in the enforcement of immigration laws.
"I think sanctuary cities are a disgrace," said Trump.
Trump says he'll deport about 3 million illegal immigrants soon after taking office. Mayor Jackson says the city won't assist the feds with any round-up of immigrants. But the Mayor admits things could get dicey.
"Now if they deputize us and order the police to do that, that is a very troubling proposition because you will be in violation of the law," Jackson said.
Cleveland councilman Zach Reed says Cleveland police should get involved in bringing immigrants to justice only if they've committed violent crimes. Otherwise, he says enforcement should be left to federal authorities.
"We should not be like a Nazi force. We should not be like the Gestapo. We should not be knocking on peoples doors," Reed said.
The cities of Oberlin and Lorain are the only municipalities which have declared themselves sanctuary cities in northeast Ohio.
There may be no legal definition for the term, but police know that questions about immigration status are off-limits.
"It's just a separation of authority. We are going to handle local issues and we view immigration to be a federal issue," said Oberlin police Lieutenant Mike McCloskey.