City council rescinds vote on ‘sanctuary’ status after mayor’s heated showdown with Tucker

The city council in Lansing, Mich. decided against being a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, just days after voting for the policy and following its mayor’s heated defense of the decision on Fox News Channel.

Council members had voted 6-0 last week for a “sanctuary” status for the city, advocating that local law enforcement not question the immigration status of individuals. Mayor Virgil Bernero defended the decision in a fiery discussion with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as well, maintaining that Lansing would not lose federal funding because the city was not violating federal law.

But, returning to “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the mayor said after “democracy in action,” he and his city council had reconsidered the sanctuary status.

“I heard from a lot of your fans after I came on,” Bernero told Carlson Wednesday, speaking while the council meeting was still in progress. He explained that he and the council members wanted to hear all sides of the argument and “encourage the debate.”

The city council eventually voted 5-2 to reverse its previous decision, earning some shouts from the assembled crowd calling council members “spineless” and saying “you’re all losing your seats,” Fox News reported.

The Lansing Regional Chamber and Michigan Chamber of Commerce had sent the council members a letter following the first vote.

“Lansing is a diverse community, rich with history and culture. It’s what makes our city a welcoming destination to live, work and thrive,” the letter stated. “Recent actions of City Council, whether intended or not, have placed an unnecessary target on the City of Lansing while jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding that impacts the city budget.”

Michigan Chamber President and CEO Richard Studley called on city officials “to stop wasting time on costly political statements and focus on real economic issues.”

“I have no problem with the earlier resolution that affirmed the city’s status as a welcoming city,” Studley said. “The challenge is with the language declaring the city a ‘sanctuary city’ — adopted hastily with little debate. I think that it is easily misinterpreted or misunderstood.”

Lansing’s mayor told Carlson the policy in place after the initial vote was different from the sanctuary city policies of other municipalities. He refuted the notion that Lansing was “opening the floodgates” to illegal immigrants with its attempt to be a sanctuary city.

The discussion quickly escalated as Carlson questioned the Democratic mayor about the decision to put the needs of illegal immigrants above those of citizens of Lansing.

“You are putting words in my mouth,” Bernero said, adding that although he agreed with President Trump’s promise to rid the country of “bad hombres,” he did not believe it is even possible to deport millions of people who are here illegally.

“I can’t allow my police force to be distracted to do immigration enforcement on behalf of the federal government,” he said.

The debate took another turn as the mayor quietly admitted that he did not know how he would handle the case of drunk-driving illegal immigrant who is arrested.

“That’s a good question that I don’t have the absolute answer to,” Bernero said.

“You’re the mayor, right?” Carlson fired back. “Maybe your citizens would appreciate it if you thought about them as well as the illegals.

Twitter users weighed in on the rematch between Carlson and the Lansing mayor.

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Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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