Lansing Not a Sanctuary City – Yet

As expected, the Lansing City Council took up the issue of becoming a sanctuary city on Monday. However, no action was taken, as proponents of the plan decided to take more time to fine-tune the measure’s language and get their legal ducks in a row.

Near the end of its nearly four-hour Committee of the Whole meeting, the council didn’t appear any closer Monday night to voting or amending a resolution that would, if approved, reinforce Lansing’s status as a “welcoming city.” There was plenty of debate about “sanctuary” city status, too.

Fourth Ward Council Member Jessica Yorko’s motion to add five amendments to a resolution draft was rejected with a 4-3 vote. The other supporters were At-Large Council Member Kathie Dunbar and Second Ward Council Member Tina Houghton. All three members’ terms expire this year.

“We can be very clear about our desires,” Yorko said before the vote.

The consensus was that council needs more time to draft a resolution. First Ward Council Member Jody Washington didn’t attended the meeting because she’s out of the country on vacation.

While Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero hasn’t come out directly in favor of Lansing having sanctuary city status, he does welcome immigrants to the city.

“Are we a sanctuary?” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, “I hope so. Are we a safe harbor? I hope so.”

Bernero says he’s against Trump’s approach, even though the city could lose up to 6.5 million dollars in federal funds if the city doesn’t comply with his executive order.

“Our police don’t go out and look for immigrants,” said Bernero. “They don’t profile refugee or immigrants or undocumented people, we are not looking for that. We are prepared to go to court if the Trump administration is trying to make us do something more than we’ve done.”

Not everyone is feeling as welcoming, however. Michigan Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) favors a bill in the state Legislature that would keep state funds from going to sanctuary cities, and said he agrees with Trump’s hard-line stance against immigrants. He also tossed about the tired assertion that immigrants are violent and dangerous.

Republican State Senator Rick Jones is supportive of both moves that aim to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“Why would you be so foolish as to want to harbor illegal people that are here,” said Sen. Jones, “some of them committing crimes, that have no business being here.”

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