AUGUSTA — With little pomp, the Kennebec County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution decreeing that Kennebec County is a welcoming place.

“I want to thank you for bringing this to the public’s attention,” District 1 Commissioner Patsy Crockett said to Gardiner resident Louis Sigel, who attended the commission meeting.

“Just as I felt when you initially brought this, the county is a welcoming county, and I think we all want to keep it that way,” Crockett said. “We did have the opportunity to hear from our sheriff and district attorney. For me, it reaffirmed they are able to work well with other law enforcements. And although we want to be welcoming, we also want to be very safe. I believe that’s what our elected officials do, keep us all safe.”

Although he hadn’t read the final version yet, Sigel said Tuesday he was pleased with the outcome.

In April, he had asked the commissioners to enact an ordinance that would spell out how the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office ought to interact with federal immigration authorities.

Sigel’s concern is that local law enforcement agencies such as the sheriff’s office would be asked by federal immigration authorities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to detain people based on their immigration status.

Based on model ordinances that originated with the American Civil Liberties Union, Sigel proposed nine policies to guide local interactions with federal authorities, including requiring judicial warrants before detaining anyone or prolonging their detention at the request of ICE or CBP or arresting anyone solely on the basis of immigration status. They also proposed that agents from those two agencies be clearly identified while in Kennebec County facilities and restricting county law enforcement officials from seeking a person’s immigration status unless the inquiry is part of a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is not related to enforcement of a civil immigration law.

During a work session for county commissioners, both Sheriff Ken Mason and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said they often work with federal agencies and did not want to jeopardize those relationships. Mason said no one can be held at the jail without paperwork and no federal prisoner can be held at the county jail.

While commissioners have extremely limited authority to enact ordinances, they are free to consider resolutions.

The welcoming county resolution passed Tuesday states that the commissioners and other Kennebec County elected officials will work to ensure Kennebec County is a safe community and will condemn any form of discrimination based on race, religion or national origin.

In addition, recognizing that many foreign nationals visit the county and state for education, work and recreation, officials will strive to ensure that all are treated fairly and with the same respect due to any resident of Maine and reject any political actions that promote fear, hate or speech that discriminates against any group, or minority class.

And finally, the resolution states, any citizen, regardless of the person’s status, should feel safe to interact with all our agencies without fear of reprisal.

Two attempts by presidential executive order so far this year to ban immigrants from entering the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries have shined a bright light on federal immigration enforcement actions. Currently no ban is in place, although President Donald Trump has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to seek an expedited hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, even as Trump continues to make his case on Twitter.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ