It is official; the Lansing City Council has unanimously voted and declared Lansing a sanctuary city.
Prior to the meeting on April 3 where the vote took place, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero released an executive order that clarified policies in place for city officials and law enforcement to more effectively protect immigrant and refugees in the community.
In Bernero’s executive order, he stated the following:
“We are confident these new policies do not violate federal law, but we are also prepared to take legal action to protect the prerogatives and powers of local government and local law enforcement,” Bernero said. “We do not want our local police to become de facto immigration agents— especially under the divisive and draconian direction of the Trump administration.”
The council agreed.
“I think is one time that the city of Lansing has got it right; we are aligned and I think this addressed all the things we are getting in our emails, within our phone calls, within our conversations,” Council Member Judi Brown Clarke said at the meeting Monday.
Although his executive order does not state any terms regarding a sanctuary jurisdiction, the order did propose policies that sanctuary city supporters have been looking for. The council stated in the meeting that they were in full support of the mayor’s executive order. The meeting concluded with an amendment to Lansing’s welcoming city resolution that designates Lansing a sanctuary city.
Member of Lansing’s branch of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Seth Kalis has been in support of a sanctuary city resolution for months with numerous other members from his organization.
“First of all, it is a lot of relief because it has been such a long fight and we did not expect this going into this meeting,” Kalis said. “So, to have this kind of sudden executive order that just kind of wins this fight for us is really good. I am really proud of my city for being able to cause so much of a ruckus around this issue to sustain this fight.”
Kalis says that the fight within the community for a sanctuary city resolution brought people together. Organizations like BAMN have met other local organizations and have built strong relationships.
“All of these groups have met each other and come together over this issue,” Kalis said. “Now we are in contact with each other so it is much more possible for us to really coordinate efforts to keep Lansing safe.”
The concept of sanctuary cities across the nation have caused an up stir over the past few months, especially in regards to how they may conflict with President Donald Trump’s administration. A concern among the council in previous months was that sanctuary cities may lose federal funding as threatened by one of Trump’s executive orders. Lansing receives just over $6 million in funds which is predominantly spent on public safety.
Council member Kathie Dunbar has been working for months to better understand what immigration and refugee policies Lansing can put in place.
“The meeting the term sanctuary city does not put a target on our back,” Dunbar said at the meeting Monday.