News Story

Michigan House Bill Would Impose Sanctions On 'Sanctuary Cities'

Ypsilanti, like Detroit and Ann Arbor, will forbid employees from asking a resident's immigration status

A bill introduced in the Michigan House last week would bar local governments from enacting so-called sanctuary city policies and would withhold state funding from any that do.

House Bill 4105, titled the “Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act,” was introduced on Thursday, Jan. 26, just one day before President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a 90-day freeze on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

On Jan. 24, Ypsilanti city officials discussed plans to amend a city ordinance so that law enforcement or city officials cannot ask a person about his or her immigration status. The ordinance is expected to be passed but it does not classify Ypsilanti as a sanctuary city.

House Bill 4105, which is similar to a bill introduced in the last legislative session, would bar municipalities that violate the ban or do not meet certain reporting requirements from receiving a portion of state revenue sharing money.

"My only concern was having municipalities enforce the existing laws,” said Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, who introduced the bill.

Under the bill, local governments would have to advise law enforcement officers in writing of their duty to inform federal officials if they have “probable cause to believe that an individual under arrest is not legally present in the United States.”

The bill was met with criticism from at least one Democratic lawmaker and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU of Michigan, in a list of talking points for its constituents, called the bill “discriminatory, costly, and divisive.”

Shelli Weisberg, political director for ACLU of Michigan, said the bill is unconstitutional.

“This legislation would undermine our constitutional rights,” Weisberg said in an email, citing the first talking point on ACLU’s list. “Detaining someone without a judicial determination of probable cause is unconstitutional.”

The ACLU of Michigan, on its Twitter account, also called for people to show up to Hornberger’s office hours next week at a coffee shop.

Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, said in a statement released three days before SB 4105 was introduced that the “proposal is a step backward.”

“I believe that our local jurisdictions should have the ability to do more to be welcoming and safe communities for all. This proposal is a step backward,” she said. “Police should be able to focus on stopping and solving crimes in our local communities, not checking immigration papers.”

“Sanctuary city policies, like those in Detroit and Ann Arbor, help build community and police relations,” Chang added. “Under sanctuary city policies, undocumented immigrants are less likely to be fearful of contacting the police due to their immigration status.”

Hornberger disputed the idea that the bill, if made law, would lead to profiling.

“It’s not causing anyone to profile,” she said. “It’s asking law enforcement officers to enforce the laws that are already in place.”

Hornberger added the bill only gained attention after President Trump’s executive order was signed and the ACLU sent out its talking points in opposition.

The bill was referred to the House Local Government Committee.