The hot issue of illegal immigration and sanctuary-cities is back on the front pages. A young woman named Katie Steinle was shot to death by a convicted felon and illegal immigrant in the sanctuary-city of San Francisco two weeks ago.
In April, Earl Arthur Olander was found bound and beaten to death in his rural San Francisco Township home. WCCO reported last week on the immigration status of two men who were arrested for the brutal murder of the 90-year old Minnesota man. One of the men lived in the sanctuary-city of St. Paul and had a criminal record.
Politicians are now grappling with what to do to quell the public anger and frustration with a federal government that’s failed to enforce the law and with local municipalities who maintain “separation ordinances” which allow undocumented immigrants who commit crimes to remain without fear of deportation.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have city codes which forbid using city resources for detecting or apprehending undocumented immigrants and which prevent police officers from verifying immigration status. Both cities joined the 2012 amicus brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of Arizona’s immigration law that would have required police officers inquire about citizenship during any lawful stop. Austin, Minnesota is also a sanctuary city.
Back in 2006, then-Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed immigration reforms that would have eliminated sanctuary cities. They passed with overwhemling support in the Republican-led House, but never received a hearing in the DFL-led Senate.
In 2008, after a school bus accident caused by an illegal immigrant killed four children in Cottonwood, Minnesota, state legislators tried again to ban sanctuary cities. A Republican-authored bill never got a House hearing. Then-state representative Marty Seifert tried to get an amendment on another bill that would have banned Minnesota sanctuary cities from receiving local government aid, it failed by a 24-34 vote in the Senate and 66-67 in the House.
Rep Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom offered a bill in 2012 that would have essentially banned sanctuary cities and it was passed through the House 77-52, but never made it out of committee in the Senate.
While the issue of sanctuary cities didn’t emerge during more recent legislative sessions, other aspects of illegal immigration have been debated. During this 2015 legislative session, a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked on behalf of liberal advocacy groups to grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, but the proposal failed to secure enough support for a vote in the House while it passed in the Senate on a party line vote. MinnPost reported that the measure to provide Minnesota drivers licenses to 90,000 illegal immigrant had the support of diverse groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union. The issue will likely be revisited during 2016 when the legislature tries again to pass a transportation bill.
As lawmakers debate public safety as it relates to illegal immigration, they might consider that the neighboring states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa have no sanctuary cities within their borders. Is it finally time to ban sanctuary cities in Minnesota? We asked our Alpha News readers in a Facebook poll which revealed that an overwhelming majority of 89% support the idea.