Feb. 13 2017 01:07 PM

City Council to vote tonight on almost being a ‘sanctuary city’

MONDAY, Feb. 13 — The Lansing City Council will be presented a resolution tonight that recommits to being a “welcoming city” to immigrants but stops short of making it a “Sanctuary City.”

Council President Patricia Spitzley said she and Councilwoman Carol Wood, both at-large members, have co-authored the resolution. Spitzley said all Council members, Mayor Virg Bernero and City Attorney James Smiertka reviewed the resolution.

The resolution comes after Smiertka issued a legal opinion pointing out the legal and fiscal pitfalls of becoming a sanctuary city in light of the Trump Administration’s position against it and pending legislation in the state Capitol that would make it illegal.

The following is the proposed resolution. For more coverage, see Wednesday’s print edition of City Pulse:

“WHEREAS, Lansing fosters a culture and environment that makes it a vibrant, global city where our immigrant and refugee residents can fully participate in and be integrated into the social, civic and economic fabric of Lansing; and

“WHEREAS, the issue of immigration is essentially one of basic human rights, exemplified by the growing number of communities passing resolutions seeking to protect immigrants’ rights; and

“WHEREAS, the City of Lansing has a long history of commitment to preserving civil rights and liberties, regardless of immigrant or refugee status; and

“WHEREAS, nearly one in fourteen (7.95%) Lansing residents is foreign born with fifty-one different native languages spoken by the student population of the Lansing School District; and

“WHEREAS, Lansing benefits tremendously from the large number of diverse immigrants and refugees who contribute to the development of a culturally and economically diverse and enriched community; and

“WHEREAS, the City of Lansing is committed to recognizing the dignity of all its residents, including the rights of all Lansing residents to live in a City that does not subject them to prejudicial treatment or discrimination; and

“WHEREAS, Lansing is committed to continue building a welcoming, safe and hate-free environment in communities, where all immigrants and refugees are welcomed, accepted, and integrated, and to encourage business leaders, civic groups, community institutions, and residents to join in community wide effort to adopt policies and practices that promote integration, inclusion and equity; and

“WHEREAS, in 2004, the Lansing City Council adopted a resolution expressing concerns about the USA Patriot Act being used to deny or abuse individuals’ civil rights and liberties based on ethnicity, religion, or immigrant status; and

“WHEREAS, in 2006, the Lansing City Council adopted a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) that protects members of our community from discrimination based on a number of irrelevant factors, including race, religion, ancestry, and national origin, and later amended the HRO to expand protections and strengthen the complaint process; and

“WHEREAS, in 2015, the City of Lansing became one of twelve counties, cities, and townships across Michigan designated “welcoming communities” for refugees and immigrants; and

“WHEREAS, Lansing joins a growing list of cities, townships, counties, and states across the country who embrace diversity and provide equal protection for all residents, immigrants and refugees, documented and undocumented, by declaring themselves “sanctuary” jurisdictions, “welcoming” communities, cities of “refuge,” and the like; and

“WHEREAS, a common thread among all these communities, regardless of the label we adopt, is our desire to create a safe, welcoming environment for immigrants and refugees by adopting policies that build trust and encourage unguarded interactions with local officials; and

“WHEREAS, an increasingly hostile anti-immigrant and racist atmosphere is being promoted by a vocal minority that represents neither American values nor the majority of our citizenry; and

“WHEREAS, on January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order targeting undocumented immigrants and threatening to withhold federal funding from any unit of government the Secretary of Homeland Security designates as a “sanctuary” jurisdiction; and

“WHEREAS, Mayor Bernero released a statement declaring he “stand[s] with the thousands of immigrants and refugees who have resettled in Lansing”; and

“WHEREAS, Governor Snyder said he is “going to continue to promote Michigan as a welcoming place for immigrants”; and

“WHEREAS, the Director of the US Conference of Mayors and the President of the Major Cities [Police] Chiefs Association released a joint statement reinforcing the idea that “immigrants residing in our cities must be able to trust the police and all of city government”; and

“WHEREAS, the Mayor and Lansing City Council agree that welcoming policies build trust and make communities safer by encouraging cooperation among immigrants and city departments and alleviating the fear of deportation that often prevents undocumented immigrants from reporting crime (as victims) and coming forward with information to assist investigators (as witnesses); and

“WHEREAS, the Mayor and the Lansing City Council stand united in our commitment to the just treatment and equal protection of all residents, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.

“NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Lansing recommits its policy to be a Welcoming City by reaffirming the City of Lansing as a Welcoming City that promotes policies and programs to foster inclusion for all, and serves its residents regardless of their immigration or refugee status, race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political ideology, disability, homelessness, low-income or veteran status, and reaffirming the City’s continuing commitment to advocate and support the wellbeing of all residents.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Lansing City Council encourages our officials, officers and employees to inspire trust among all residents, especially members of Lansing’s immigrant and refugee communities, by maintaining confidential reporting and information gathering without concern for national origin or immigrant status.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Lansing City Council supports the City of Lansing challenging, to the greatest extent permitted by law, efforts by the state or federal government to require our police officers to enforce federal immigration laws because doing so would irreparably damage the trust between our police officers and our citizens. Such actions would also diminish the time and resources our police officers spend responding to citizen calls for service, conducting investigations and engaging in targeted efforts to reduce violent crime. If necessary, the Council supports the City’s pursuit of all available legal remedies to enjoin or void any state or federal action that would redirect the City’s law enforcement resources toward immigration-related matters.

“FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and Lansing City Council stand united in sustaining Lansing’s culture of diversity and inclusion by welcoming and supporting immigrants and refugees from all nationalities, religions, and backgrounds with policies and programs that foster inclusion for all. When possible, Lansing elected officials and employees shall support the efforts of elected officials and staff in local jurisdictions throughout Michigan in developing policies protecting vulnerable populations whose rights may be abrogated and interests harmed by those hostile to maintaining or expanding protections to these communities and who would unconstitutionally and illegally misuse the power of the federal government to do so.”