April 7 2017 08:10 AM

Lansing, state chambers of commerce call on City Council to tone down resolution

FRIDAY. April 7 — Soften the sanctuary city resolution. That’s the message two powerful business interests emailed the Lansing City Council last night.

“We respectfully ask that you amend the recently passed resolution by removing the reference to ‘Sanctuary City.’” reads the letter signed by Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

“While the focus should be leadership on issues such as the city’s unfunded liabilities, roads and infrastructure, regional cooperation and making Lansing more competitive, City Council has chosen to bring a federal matter to local politics,” the two opined. The letter accuses the Council of placing “an unnecessary target on the City of Lansing, while jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding that impacts the city budget. A budget that cannot afford to fill a gap this significant.”

The two CEOs are referring to a threat by President Donald Trump to rescind federal funding to jurisdictions his administration determines are “sanctuary jurisdictions.” He authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney general to make such designations in a Jan. 25 executive order.

Their letter continues a week of controversy following the surprise adoption Monday night by the Council of a resolution that declared Lansing a sanctuary city. The resolution was adopted 6-0. Jody Washington, the 1st Ward Councilwoman, and Adam Hussain, the 3rd Ward Councilman, were absent.

That resolution reconfirmed the city’s commitment to being a “welcoming city,” but it went two steps farther than originally proposed. First, the resolution was amended to support an executive order issued late Monday afternoon by Mayor Virg Bernero. He said Monday the order was meant to establish clear policies for Lansing officials to follow.

Later in the evening the resolution was amended a second time to include a declaration that the city was a “Sanctuary City.”

During an off and on 10-week debate, sanctuary city advocates on Council and from the public argued that Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants demands leaders take a stand through executive and other legislative actions to stymie the federal government’s actions. Opponents said the move was dangerous because Trump has threatened to rescind federal funding to jurisdictions his secretary of homeland security and attorney general deem to be “sanctuary jurisdictions.” An estimated $6.5 million in federal fund was deemed at risk.

The Department of Homeland Security in February began publishing a weekly list of municipalities and governments that were not cooperating with the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The latest list included 150 jurisdictions. The next list is expected to be published today.

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