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Lansing Chamber of Commerce objects to city's sanctuary status in letter

Apr 7, 2017

The Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce are urging city council members to rescind a resolution which declares Lansing a "sanctuary city."

In a letter sent to the Lansing City Council Thursday, business leaders wrote that they want the declaration removed because it sends the wrong message.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber wrote:

We respectfully ask that you amend the recently passed resolution by removing the reference to “Sanctuary City.” As our city’s elected leaders, you play an important role in maintaining and creating a climate that attracts businesses, residents and investment - or doesn’t. Let’s maintain an approach that makes investing and doing business in Lansing just as attractive as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and other growing and thriving cities.

Lansing Mayor Virg Berero signed the executive order on Monday, which set guidelines for how police interact with residents. This includes an order that police not stop or pursue anyone based on their immigration status and will not ask the immigration status of any witnesses or victims. The city council later passed a resolution declaring Lansing a "sanctuary city" in support of the order.

Council members could still reconsider the matter, but Bernero has said he does not plan to veto the resolution because it is a gesture and not a law.

The Trump administration has said there will be punishment for self-proclaimed "sanctuary cities" by withholding federal funds. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week that the Justice Department plans to follow through on that threat.

Lansing is the first city in Michigan to formally declare itself a "sanctuary city," although Ann Arbor has approved a resolution directing police to not collect information on immigration status. A handful of other Michigan cities have developed pro-immigrant local policies, such as directing law enforcement and city staff not to ask a person's immigration status or declaring the community a "Welcoming City."