Anti-Sanctuary Bills Introduced in Michigan Senate
FAIR Take | May 2022
On May 17, bills to ban dangerous sanctuary policies were introduced in the Michigan Senate. These are companion bills to the anti-sanctuary legislation introduced last year in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Senate Bills (SB) 1044, sponsored by Senator Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge), and 1045, by Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) would ban sanctuary policies by counties and other local governments. Provisions in the bills would:
- Prohibit any local policy “that limits or prohibits a peace officer or local official, officer, or employee from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials concerning the immigration status of an individual” and would declare such policies to be null and void;
- Authorize a resident within a sanctuary locality or the state attorney general (AG), to file a lawsuit to enjoin the sanctuary policy, as well as compensate a resident damages, costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees; and
- Impose a personal fine of $7500 or less on local officials who “knowingly and willfully enact or enforce” a sanctuary policy that a court has enjoined.
The companion House Bills (HB) 4539 and 4197 were introduced early in 2021. HB 4539 is sponsored by Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) and HB 4197 by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield).
The House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. LaFave, held a hearing on the anti-sanctuary bills on June 15, 2021. A week later they were voted out of committee. Since their passage out of committee, the bills have been placed on the House’s Second Reading calendar and could be scheduled for debate and passage on the House floor at any time.
After their introduction, the Senate bills were referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government which is chaired by Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida). He has not yet scheduled hearings on them.
The bills’ sponsors have pushed to end sanctuary policies in Michigan for several years. When he introduced an anti-sanctuary bill in 2019, Sen. Barrett forcefully condemned such policies, saying, “[l]ocal governments with sanctuary policies protect criminal illegal aliens instead of their own residents. This dangerous lawlessness must be stopped.”
Similarly, Rep. LaFave stated that “[l]ocal officials who ignore the law and turn their communities into sanctuaries for illegal immigrants are endangering people and violating the public trust.”
If these bills pass the legislature, it is likely that Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) will veto them. In the past she has supported pro-illegal alien bills like granting drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens. A veto is not certain if Democrat Governor Laura Kelly’s (Kansas) actions are indicative during an election year. Based on political calculations, Gov. Kelly recently signed Kansas’ anti-sanctuary bill into law. Gov. Whitmer, for the same reasons, could support the bill or allow it to become law without her signature.
However, Gov. Whitmer may not have the same incentive as Gov. Kelly. In Michigan, unlike Kansas, it is unlikely that the legislature would be able to garner the necessary two-thirds majorities to override a potential veto. In Michigan, Republicans control the Senate 22-16 and the House 56-53. Therefore a veto override would require substantial support from Democrat lawmakers, which is unlikely.