Michigan House Republicans
A sanctuary policy by any other name still shields illegal aliens
RELEASE|March 29, 2024
Contact: Matt Hall

House Republican Leader Matt Hall on Thursday highlighted the need to block any local policy that prevents law enforcement from fully collaborating with federal immigration officials, including a refusal to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), no matter what the policy is called or how it is implemented. Hall introduced legislation to ban all sanctuary policies nine months ago, but House Democrats have not allowed the bills to receive a hearing.

“All sanctuary policies undermine public safety, because criminals who came to the U.S. illegally can avoid deportation and get back on the streets after an arrest,” said Hall, R-Richland Township. “Illegals looking for a safe space to hide from immigration officials don’t care what you call it, and that’s why our plan puts a stop to all of it. If any county or city refuses to hold illegal aliens so federal law enforcement can do their job, they’re providing a sanctuary to criminals and putting our families at risk. Our state must protect the people of Michigan and put an end to these disastrous sanctuary cities and counties.”

ICE officials have repeatedly criticized all sanctuary policies — including local decisions not to comply with ICE’s requests to keep illegal immigrants who have already been arrested in jail for 48 hours so federal officers can arrive and enforce immigration law. Some sheriffs in Michigan have said they would detain an illegal alien only if they receive a judicial arrest warrant. ICE denounced this kind of sanctuary policy, explaining that the policy ignores the fact that federal law only allows judicial warrants in some immigration enforcement cases. In most cases, ICE must use administrative warrants to enforce civil immigration violations and ensure illegal immigrants appear at deportation hearings.

As one ICE official stated in 2019, “There is no such thing as a judicial warrant for administrative immigration violations. … There is no authority or legal mechanism for a judge or magistrate to issue a criminal warrant for an administrative immigration arrest. Sanctuary policies such as these fail to recognize federally established processes for the enforcement of immigration law, as established by Congress.”

Hall’s plan would ban these dangerous policies. House Bills 4879 and 4880 would prohibit a local government from enacting or enforcing any policy limiting or prohibiting local employees, including police officers, from communicating or cooperating with federal officials on issues related to someone’s status as an illegal immigrant. The ban voids any such policy, whether it was adopted by a local legislative body, local government agency, or any local official or officer.

Another ICE official, Rebecca Adducci, strongly criticized policies refusing to honor detainers based on administrative warrants: “The release of criminal aliens back on west Michigan streets continues to pose a serious threat to our communities. ICE remains committed to arresting and removing criminal aliens in the interest of public safety and national security, despite local decisions to not honor detainers and jeopardize the safety of its citizens.”

ICE said this kind of policy “negatively impacts public safety and ICE’s efficiency in the apprehension of criminal aliens,” and said those who oppose administrative detainers “wish to undermine immigration enforcement and excuse the ill-conceived practices of sanctuary jurisdictions that put politics before public safety.”

Hall and House Republicans introduced the ban on sanctuary zones in June 2023, and Hall this week demanded a committee hearing after an illegal alien murdered a young woman, Ruby Garcia, in Grand Rapids. More than 20 Michigan communities with a total of more than 5.5 million residents have implemented sanctuary or “welcoming” policies that inhibit compliance with federal immigration enforcement. Officials in Kent County, Kalamazoo County, and other jurisdictions have declined to comply with administrative detainer requests, and Hall’s legislation would prohibit these sanctuary policies.

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