Michigan Immigrant Rights Center
February 23, 2011
On February 22, 2011, Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville) introduced HB 4305, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” in the Michigan Legislature along with cosponsors Reps. Thomas Hooker, Peter Pettalia, Bob Genetski, Ray Franz, Matt Huuki, Marty Knollenberg, Joel Johnson, Anthony Forlini, Ben Glardon, Dale W. Zorn, Phillip Potvin, Paul Opsommer, Kurt Damrow, Bill Rogers, Matt Lori and Paul Scott. Several provisions of this bill (as well as its title) mirror the language of Arizona‘s controversial SB 1070 law, but the bill is not identical. The bill is identical to HB 6366 of 2010 which Rep. Agema introduced in the last legislative session. More information about the public benefits verification language discussed in both bills is available in MIRC’s legislative tracking list from the last legislative session
Section 3 of HB 4305 largely restates current federal law and practice regarding immigrant eligibility for public benefits and verification requirements. Affidavits of citizenship would still be accepted from U.S. citizens applying for benefits which currently only require an affidavit, but a new reporting requirement is imposed that would require referral of any allegedly false claims of U.S. citizenship to the United States Attorney for potential prosecution. This bill does not seek to impose any new “reporting” requirements on benefits agencies, and it is important to note that federal law and state policy strictly limits the circumstances in which the Department of Human Services may report those it may suspect of being unlawfully present to immigration authorities. As reaffirmed in Section 4(6), this policy would not be disturbed by this bill.
Section 4 states that “an official or agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state shall not adopt a policy that limits or restricts enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” This “anti-sanctuary cities” clause seeks to reach both official policies limiting circumstances in which local law enforcement may communicate with immigration enforcement, but also more informal local policies and priorities. Section 4(2) removes discretion from state and local law enforcement authorities and obligates them to verify the immigration status of any person who is “stopped, detained or arrested for a violation of law. . .” who “is of should reasonably be suspected of being unlawfully present in the United States.” This bill does not list any factors that could or should give rise to that suspicion and, unlike the original (and later modified) version of Arizona’s SB 1070, makes no mention of the use of race as a factor.
Section 4(5) states that “a law enforcement officer, with or without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” This portion of the bill is particularly unclear in the context of the immigration law. Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act lists the categories of state and federal crimes that may make an immigrant removable from the United States. However, these grounds principally relate to how someone with legal immigration status can be stripped of that status. Most legal immigrants who commit crimes that may make them removable are transferred directly to immigration custody following the completion of their sentence. If an officer has probable cause to arrest a person for a crime, the officer doesn’t need expanded authority to make an arrest simply because that crime happens to also be a ground of removal under the immigration law. A person without legal immigration status and without any legal defense to removal does not need to have committed a “public offense” to be removable from the United States.
Section 4(7) allows any person to file a lawsuit to challenge any “official or agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy limiting or restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” The person bringing the suit could recover court costs and attorneys fees and the state or local entity could be required to fine of between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00 for each day beyond the seventh day that the policy remains in effect after the agency is served with a lawsuit.
Section 5 makes failure to apply for “alien registration” or carry an alien registration document in violation of a particular provision of federal law a state law crime. Numerous “Arizona-style” bills have referenced those particular provisions of federal law and what immigrants they reach has been the subject of debate.
For information about how some immigrant advocates in Michigan are reacting to this bill, visit the Alliance for Immigrant Rights & Reform Michigan’s website, linked here.