House Committee Reports Sanctuary City Bill Despite Opposition

Posted on April 9, 2019 by chackbarth

The House Military, Veterans, and Homeland Security committee reported House Bills 4083 and 4090 this afternoon by straight, party-line votes despite broad opposition from the League and other local government, law enforcement, and citizen organizations.

These bills would prohibit any city, village, township, or county in Michigan from adopting or enforcing a “sanctuary city” ordinance or policy.  Any city, village or township would be prohibited from enacting or enforcing a law, ordinance, policy or rule that would limit a peace officer or local official from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials on an individual’s immigration status.

While the League requested the opportunity to testify in opposition to these bills today, the committee ran out of time and decided to vote on the bills rather than conduct an additional hearing.

Beyond the overall approach of this legislation, there are concerns that we have with regard to the language in House Bill 4083, specifically:

  • The legislation specifically singles out only city, village, township, and county law enforcement and ignores all other state, local, and educational entities that provide law enforcement services (university & community college police departments, MI State Police & DNR conservation officers, port and transit authority law enforcement, etc).
  • The references in the bills to local units appears to include all local officials and employees, whether elected or employed.  This broad impact will micromanage local police officers and have a chilling effect on their relationship with residents in their communities.
  • The language in section 5 of HB 4083, prohibiting any local ordinance or policy that limits communicating or cooperating with federal officials on immigration status, is undefined and will subject every community in Michigan to scrutiny and liability about what constitutes “limiting” communication or cooperation, even those without so-called “sanctuary city” policies.  There are well-documented legal and Constitutional question marks around the validity of some federal detention requests that local law enforcement may be leery of complying with that could be deemed as “limiting” cooperation and subjecting a local unit to liability and punitive action under the bill.
  • Section 7 of the bill specifically requires a local unit to bring any offending ordinance or policy into compliance with this act within 60 days, whether the local unit is enforcing or even knows the language is on their books.  This is a significant mandate, especially in light of the countless examples in both State statute and the Michigan Constitution of instances where language still exists but is obsolete or unenforceable.
  • Finally, the language in sections 9, 11, and 13 subject local units of government to direct civil liability for the mere presence of local ordinances or policies that any resident could subjectively construe to be in violation of the act, whether the local unit is even aware of the language or planning to utilize or enforce it.  The application of civil fines to local officials and law enforcement personnel will only serve to have local government employees constantly looking over their shoulder for simply doing their jobs.

While these bills have been reported from the Military, Veterans, & Homeland Security committee, they have now been referred to the House Ways and Means committee for further review before any full House action could be considered.  League members are encouraged to contact members of the Ways and Means committee to express opposition to these bills.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and [email protected]

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