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Council’s About-face Angers Lansing Sanctuary Advocates

council members
Katie Cook
The Lansing City Council rescinded its sanctuary city resolution after just nine days in effect.

People who liked Lansing's "sanctuary city" status are upset that the council rescinded the status after only a week. 

Activists who supported sanctuary status for the city of Lansing are criticizing the city council’s order to rescind that designation.

The council initially voted on April 3 to declare itself a “sanctuary city” following Mayor Virg Bernero’s executive order prohibiting police and city employees from asking about an immigrant’s status. 

The council’s sudden turnaround disappoints Action of Greater Lansing operations director Oscar CastanedaHe calls the decision “ignorant.”

“They said that they don’t want to have the national eyes on Lansing,” says Castaneda.  “With this whole process of the last week, they brought back the eyes of the whole world in Lansing.”

Both the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Chamber of Commerce had asked the council to remove all references of “sanctuary city.”  Castaneda says the council caved to pressure from both agencies.

“It took us months to make them vote on the resolution in the beginning,” he says.  “And now, the (Lansing and Michigan) chamber of commerce came, and with one letter in one week, they were calling up a special meeting. That will tell you about the special interests and who makes the decisions in Lansing.”

Castaneda thinks it’s unlikely the federal government would have cut the city’s funding over the issue.  He adds Lansing is better off now with the mayor’s executive order in place than it was six months ago. 

Action of Greater Lansing is considering its next steps.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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