It’s hard to put into words what the Lansing City Council did last night.
“Crumble” comes to mind.
Folded. Faltered. Caved. Cowered.
Given to the choice between taking a bold stand against Trump’s xenophobic agenda and bully-boy tactics or human rights, dignity and hope, the Lansing City Council last night chose the easy the path. The craven path. The safe path. But not the right one.
Undoing the brave step they took just a few days earlier, the council decided to welch on their promise that Lansing would be a city that treats all of its residents fairly, no matter what their citizenship status may be. That is not to say that the city wouldn’t recognize immigration law, but that it wouldn’t let its own police do the work of the federal immigration force. And it wouldn’t punish noncitizens who approached the police for help, or who helped the police by providing them with information on unresolved cases.
It’s not yet clear what this ultimately means. The meat of Lansing’s sanctuary city status was accomplished through mayoral executive orders. Orders that the city council have not, and perhaps cannot, undo. But it’s also unclear at this point how strongly Mayor Virg Bernero will act against the most recent action of the council. Given the history of strife between the mayor’s office and the city council chamber, anything’s possible.
What’s certain is this: the city of Lansing has always been diverse, and has always been a haven for immigrants and refugees, and a large and vocal segment of the population are serious about seeing it remain that way. From what I have seen, the bulk of the opposition that showed up to the city council meeting Wednesday night came from out of town, people who don’t live here and who have no stake in our city, but who felt entitled to have a say in how we live here nonetheless.