Could Traverse City become a sanctuary city?

Boardman River between downtown Traverse City and Grand Traverse Bay
Boardman River between downtown Traverse City and Grand Traverse Bay

DETROIT – Northern Michigan's Traverse City could become a sanctuary city.

The issue was discussed at a meeting with the Human Rights Ad Hoc committee, which was formed last month.

A sanctuary city is loosely defined as a city that limits its cooperation with the national governments' effort to enforce immigration laws.

They are often places for refugees and asylum seekers who are seeking safety.

A handful of opposing community members at the meeting said the city should be more worried about citizens rights, WPBN reports.

"We're not leaning one way or the other at this point," said Taylor Nash Human Rights Commission Chair. "It's just something we're looking at and I think we're looking at it within the broader context of how do we help immigrants in this community. So this is one facet we're looking at."

No final decision was made at the meeting, but the discussion will continue. 

The Justice Department is looking for more ways to deny coveted federal grant money to so-called sanctuary cities.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a department memorandum Monday that the department may "tailor grants to promote a lawful system of immigration." That suggests officials could seek ways to withhold money from communities that refuse to honor detainer requests from federal immigration authorities.

A judge in April blocked President Donald Trump's attempt to withhold funding from some localities, saying the president doesn't have the authority to attach new conditions to spending by Congress. But the Sessions memo suggests the Justice Department still can attach more stringent conditions to the money it doles out.

Sessions already has threatened to pull money from jurisdictions that hinder communication between local police and immigration authorities.


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