The sanctuary city controversy, explained

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight, pour one out for the victims of the Bowling Green Massacre. Also, this Clickhole quiz made me laugh harder than anything in recent memory. Tonight is First Friday, here’s what’s going on.

What we’re talking about

What Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities could mean for Portland — Jake Bleiberg digs into the controversy around what a sanctuary city is, and whether Portland could be targeted as one by President Donald Trump.

Portland’s current policy states it will cooperate with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws. Some are pushing the city to change this policy, while officials also are pointing to the strength of the existing immigrant protections and the practical limits on local law enforcement’s involvement with immigration officials.

In the background, Gov. Paul LePage has repeatedly labeled the city a sanctuary — for its defiance of his efforts to end aid to asylum seekers — which creates a powerful perception, regardless of Portland’s actual policies.

It’s unclear whether and how Portland would be affected by the Trump order because the federal government has so far failed to specify how it’s going to act. This uncertainty is making the stakes feel high.

Where Maine’s senators stand on every Trump appointee, in one spreadsheet — Michael Shepherd has been updating this list, which you should bookmark.

Here’s the lineup for Portland’s newest music festival — Sunaana, a festival that brings together Icelandic and local bands — and plenty of craft beer — is scheduled for March 4 at Thompson’s Point. Kathleen Pierce reports the roster of talent will include Armies (Dave Gutter of Rustic Overtones’ side project with Anna Lombard), as well as Hannah Daman and The Martelle Sisters and Town Meeting with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. Oh and there will be beer from Bissell Brothers, Barreled Souls, Gneiss and Mast Landing, among some out-of-state brewers.

The Maine GOP is FOAAing Portland’s superintendent — Jake reports: “The Maine Republican Party is accusing the head of Portland’s school system of using public resources to force his ‘partisan agenda’ on students and teachers after the superintendent penned a letter decrying an alleged hate crime against several high school students that the party says was too political.”

So now the state GOP is ​filing​ ​a​ ​public​ ​records​ ​request​ ​for​ ​Xavier​ ​Botana’s​ ​written communications,​ ​which​ ​the​ ​party​ ​suggests​ ​will​ ​reveal​ ​“outside​ ​and​ ​internal​ ​forces”​ ​that​ ​may​ ​be influencing​ ​his​ ​“political​ ​agenda,”​ ​it​ ​said​ ​in​ ​a​ ​statement.

Meanwhile, police arrested and charged a man in connection with the hate crime — Last Friday, a Portland man allegedly yelled racial slurs at a group of black Casco Bay High School students, assaulted two students who came to their defense and brandished a screwdriver, according the Portland Police, who arrested him Friday. Jamie Hoffman faces charges of interfering with constitutional and civil rights, assault and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Police also referred the case to the Maine Attorney General.

Tweet of the day/Quote Of The Year

From Alex Burns.

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The Best Thing We Read Today

‘Is There a Limit to the Resistance?’ — Ever since someone punched alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer, people have been debating “is it OK to punch a Nazi?” Here, Noah Rothman writes in Commentary:

The left should ask itself if there is any limiting principle to their “resistance,” or if they now believe that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Democrats would do well to consider how much their fantasy of a “resistance” to Donald Trump is fueling the real thing.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.