It was, as the Washington Post described it, a “militant” move intended to fire “a blast at the Trump administration.” That was the story on April 3rd, when Lansing, Michigan voted to formalize their status as a sanctuary city. They were ready to Just Say No to having their police assist ICE in their law enforcement duties when dealing with illegal immigrants. The cops also wouldn’t be asking pesky questions of suspects as to their immigration status. How bold! How daring!
And yes… that lasted barely more than a week. And this this happened.
Wednesday night, the council rescinded the resolution by a 5-2 vote, amid shouts of “spineless” from someone in the audience, which was filled with both supporters and detractors of the sanctuary city concept.
What happened in between the two decisions? Quite a bit.
The council got scared off, it appears, which is exactly what the Trump administration’s policy is meant to do.
Immediately after the council passed the resolution, three GOP members of Congress from Michigan denounced the move in no uncertain terms. Rep. Mike Bishop, whose district includes Lansing, called it “completely reckless,” adding that it “sends a dangerous message that local governments or individuals can simply pick and choose which laws they wish to follow.”
As noted, their congressman – Mike Bishop – was obviously not a fan.
But was that enough to get the council to back down in record time? Probably not. But what did get their attention was the more than six million dollars in federal money which the city receives each year. On top of that, Bishop reminded them that there is currently a bill being considered in the state legislature which would shut off state level funds to sanctuary cities as well. That’s a pretty big hole to blow in the budget of a city which is already having trouble paying its bills.
And at the same time, the City Council members might have noticed the unexpectedly large number of people who showed up at the next meeting wearing their Make America Great Again hats and looking rather displeased. Thinking back to November, the area around Lansing actually overperformed for Trump, not to mention the Republicans running for Congress. Sure, the city center has plenty of Democrats, but are you really all that secure in your political futures that you want to pull this move?
The results of the vote indicate that they were not. So the “official” sanctuary city status was flipped on a 5-2 vote. But that leaves an open question on the table. That’s really nothing more than a tag line. It was a political stunt. Under the covers, Lansing has been exposed on a national level as a city where the policies they have in place for law enforcement still make them a sanctuary city in practice if not in name. Having volunteered the information, it may still be worth taking a look at cutting their funding. After all, we’re going to have to pay for that wall one way or another and even a few million from Lansing won’t hurt.