Michigan Budget Passes with Anti-Sanctuary Provisions
Michigan’s Republican-controlled state legislature has passed a budget bill that includes anti-sanctuary language for the second year in a row and this year Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) let it become law.
House Bill (HB) 5396 is the “omnibus general appropriations bill,” the largest part of the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts in October. It specifies that counties with sanctuary policies will no longer be eligible to receive state funds for housing convicted felons in their county jails who would have otherwise served their sentences in state prison.
This same language which was also included in last year’s budget was line-item vetoed by Gov. Whitmer. Lacking the votes required for the override (a two-thirds supermajority is needed), the legislature did not attempt to override her veto. Republicans outnumber Democrats 58-51 in the Michigan House of Representatives and 22-16 in the state Senate.
The state funding cuts would pose significant losses to several Michigan counties that only honor immigration detainers for suspected illegal aliens if they are accompanied by a judicial warrant. These policies are frequently referred to as “sanctuary fig leaves" because such warrants do not exist under federal law and cannot be provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Wayne County (Detroit) would lose an estimated $1.5 million and Kent County $1.1 million, while Kalamazoo and Washtenaw counties would lose $975,000 and $520,000 respectively.
In 2019, when the provision originally passed his committee, Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) said it was “an important standard that we uphold that we want all facets of law enforcement to work collaboratively and cooperate together with one another, and this is a good motivator for them to do that.”
Besides the public safety arguments made for it last year, the changed economic circumstances this year may further justify ending state subsidies for sanctuary policies. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have left Michigan's economy dramatically worse and its finances much tighter. The state only avoided dramatic budget cuts because of several billion in federal assistance (which certainly should not be used to subsidize sanctuary policies that undermine the enforcement of federal law). Meanwhile, as of mid-August, more than 462,000 Michiganders were unemployed, or approximately 10.7 percent. State resources would be better spent helping Michigan citizens and legal immigrants rather than funding counties with sanctuary policies.
Gov. Whitmer who ran on open-borders policies and vetoed the the anti-sanctuary budget language last year let it slip by this year.