The Lansing City Council voted to table a resolution that would reaffirm Lansing’s status as welcoming city to immigrants and refugees on Feb.13. The resolution was scrapped not because the council didn’t want to pass legislation, but largely due to public demand for more protection under the proposition.
See below for the full proposal.
The meeting drew a crowd so large that a viewing area was set up in the lobby to accommodate more people.
“I’ve been on the council for a year and in that time I have never seen a crowd at a council meeting that large,” said Council Member Kathie Dunbar. “We’ve had it before where we’ve had people spill over to the lobby, but we’ve never had that many people sign up that we’ve had to rotate people out of the chamber so everyone that wanted to speak could.”
A few dozen people spoke, the majority were in favor of stronger legislation than the council proposed.
One of the people who spoke in favor of stronger legislation was Thasin Sardar, a member of the Islamic Center of East Lansing. Click below for the audio.
But not everyone that spoke was in favor of Lansing moving toward sanctuary city status. Several people spoke in opposition to the resolution citing concerns about law and order being disrupted by allowing undocumented immigrants to the city.
“Our country depends on the rule of law; all of us must abide by the rule of law,” said John Westra during the public comment portion of the meeting. “I personally welcome everyone that I meet. However, when you commit a crime to enter the country, you are not representing yourself as the citizen that this great constitutional republic wishes you to be.”
Council President Patricia Spitzley said that she heard the public loud and clear but pointed out that the council was limited in what it could do.
“We cannot direct the police department to do anything,” said Spitzley after the public comment ended. “Any revision of language that suggests, orders or shalls is not something that we have the authority to do.”
It was along this line that the council was split, how much they could do versus how much the public wanted them to do. Council Member Jessica Yorko presented six amendments to the resolution that would have given the legislation more teeth but also would have pushed the limitations on the council’s power.
Ultimately the amendments were tabled in a 4-3 vote along with the resolution. However the council assured the public that the debate over the potential sanctuary-city status would not end and they would have a new resolution in the coming meetings.