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Michigan's Capital Changes Mind on 'Sanctuary City' Label

City council held emergency vote after complaints from business community
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2017 4:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Michigan's capital reversed a decision to call itself a "sanctuary city" that protects immigrants regardless of their legal status, bowing to pressure from a business community concerned that the term would draw unwanted attention to Lansing from President Trump's administration and cost the city federal funding, the AP reports. The city council voted 5-2 late Wednesday to reverse course just nine days after unanimously deciding to call Lansing a sanctuary. The term "sanctuary city" has no legal definition and varies in application, but it generally refers to jurisdictions that do not cooperate with US immigration officials.

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Under Lansing policy set out last week in an order from Mayor Virg Bernero that stays in effect, employees cannot ask about immigration status, except as required by US or Michigan law or a court order. Police also are prohibited from holding immigrants for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless federal authorities have a judicial warrant. "It is not the two words that make this a sanctuary city. We have an executive order right now that protects folks and keeps them and their family intact," said Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, who opposed dropping the term. The new vote followed 2½ hours of contentious public comment during which more than 70 people spoke for and against the measure. (Read more sanctuary cities stories.)

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