Sanctuary city revisited

Lansing City Council to vote on whether to reverse last week’s declaration


TUESDAY, April 11 — In a special session requested by Councilwomen Carol Wood and Judi Brown Clarke, the Lansing City Council will meet tomorrow night to reconsider its sanctuary city declaration.

Carol Wood

The Council voted 6-0 on April 3 to amend a “Welcoming City Resolution” to name Lansing a sanctuary jurisdiction after Mayor Virg Bernero issued an executive order that is consistent with policies of many such communities around the country. Essentially, sanctuary cities do not try to determine if citizens are undocumented immigrants unless serious crimes are involved, even if the federal government requests their assistance.

Two days later, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce called on the Council to rescind its sanctuary city declaration. In a letter to the Council, the chambers said the declaration detracts from “an approach that makes investing and doing business in Lansing just as attractive as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and other growing and thriving cities."

Late Monday, the Council issued a press release saying it would meet at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow to discuss rescinding the declaration.

Brown Clarke
Brown Clarke, who is running for mayor, said in a statement that she and Wood called for the special meeting. They voted for the resolution and the amendment to it that declared Lansing a sanctuary city.

Her statement, issued today, said, “Our intentions remain the same. However, the term ‘sanctuary’ became a trigger and negative distraction. This was not a change in positioning Lansing as a welcoming city. Rather, this resolves outside requests. Ultimately, it undermined our ability to state how we embrace our community and remain fiscally diligent.

“It is our desire to end this debate and move forward with the important business of the city.”

Fiscal diligence is a reference to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order that federal funds will be withheld from sanctuary jurisdictions. The city of Seattle has already begun a legal challenge of the order’s constitutionality.

Councilmembers Jody Washington and Adam Hussain are expected to join Wood and Brown Clarke in supporting the rescission action. Councilwomen Kathie Dunbar, Jessica Yorko and Tina Houghton have consistently backed sanctuary city status. Council President Patricia Spitzley voted against the sanctuary city amendment, but when it passed 5-1, with Washington and Hussain absent, she voted for the Welcoming City Resolution, making it unanimous.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Council chambers on the 10th floor of City Hall.


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