LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lansing City Council’s decision to become a “sanctuary city” last week sparked a firestorm of controversy and confusion…
Tonight, the council tried to put that fire out at a special meeting where the council took a second vote on the issue.
It was an intense meeting tonight…the City Council sat through a barrage of public comment and took nearly three hours of sharp criticism from both sides of the debate.
Last week, the council voted 6-0 in favor of calling Lansing a “sanctuary city” but just over an hour ago, they voted 5-2 to rescind their previous vote and put Lansing back to its “welcoming city” status.
Last week the council made a surprise decision to add the sanctuary tag…that decision came just hours after Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero unveiled a sweeping set of executive orders.
The orders outlined how the city would handle immigration issues and instructed police not to arrest anyone solely based on their legal status.
People who were against the sanctuary city title blasted that executive order tonight with many saying it’s not up to cities to decide if they follow federal law.
Many people who wanted to keep the sanctuary status said it’s important that people can get help if they need it regardless of what their legal status is.
“As far as I’m concerned and as far as the immigrants are concerned and many folks that are in here, we are still a sanctuary city…this is the big thing…if President Trump is going to go after communities, he’s not going after the name, he’s going after the policies because the name can’t hold up in court so the name means nothing to Trump, but it meant everything to the folks that we were trying to protect,” said At-Large Lansing City Councilmember Kathie Dunbar.
“We are still a welcoming city…we welcome diversity, we welcome anyone here…I said as I say before that the diversity of our community is our strength and a diverse community is a strong thriving community and so I think that folks should not fear coming to Lansing, they should feel safe here,” Lansing City Council President Patricia Spitzley stated.
The Trump Administration promised to cut money to cities that don’t follow federal immigration laws.
Lansing’s City Council said adding just the word sanctuary didn’t put Lansing at risk for losing money, but it was clear that just the possibility of being a target for the White House was enough to worry some people tonight.
It’s important to note that tonight’s decision does not reverse any of Mayor Bernero’s executive orders.