Sanctuary Cities Have no Place in Minnesota (Commentary)

A recent story in the Star Tribune reported that Roseville will soon vote on whether it should become Minnesota’s first “sanctuary” suburb, meaning its police officers would be prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration officials regarding illegal immigrants in their city. Such a policy, however, isn’t about a “push to support immigrants” as the story suggests, it’s about shielding those here illegally.

It’s a common tactic of sanctuary supporters to argue that those of us who believe immigration laws should be enforced are somehow “anti-immigrant” or less compassionate about Minnesota’s large immigrant community.

It’s a dishonest and quite shameful tactic. Particularly since it’s largely the policies of this same “progressive” ideology that are making the lives of so many immigrants in this state much more difficult than they should be.

Many immigrants who come here have an entrepreneurial spirit that is crushed by Minnesota’s overbearing regulatory state and costly occupational licensing requirements. Immigrants who are successful in finding work or creating their own, are subject to the same high property taxes, sales tax, and income taxes as every other Minnesotan. And government denies access to better options for those with children stuck in failing public schools in certain parts of the state.

Refusing to cooperate with enforcement of immigration laws, however, does nothing to help or support those who have come here through our legal process to seek a better life for themselves or their families. In fact, most of the immigrants I know want to see immigration laws enforced.

The Star Tribune article stated that Roseville, since it receives very little in federal aid, could become a sanctuary city without suffering any financial penalties the federal government might impose. It’s time Minnesota joins other states in banning sanctuary cities by denying state aid to cities that make this choice.

Communities can’t be picking and choosing which laws they will follow, and we all deserve to know who’s in our communities. These are simple, common-sense concepts that don’t break along party lines and are held by mainstream Democrats and Republicans throughout Minnesota.

In conjunction with banning sanctuary cities, Minnesota should be implementing policies to help immigrants here legally to succeed. We should be giving parents with kids in failing or dangerous schools more control and more options. We should be streamlining regulations for those wanting to start a small business and eliminating some of the onerous occupational licensing requirements that prevent competition. We should proudly support a robust safety net for those truly in need but make it our mission to help as many people as possible escape that safety net and realize their God-given potential.

That would be a real “push to support immigrants.”

Jeff Johnson is currently a Hennepin County Commissioner and Candidate for Minnesota Governor.

Jeff Johnson