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DFL lawmakers’ bill would make Minnesota the 13th sanctuary state

Immigrants walk towards the Rio Grande to cross into Del Rio, Texas on September 23, 2021, from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

By Deena Winter, Minnesota Reformer

Nearly three dozen Democratic lawmakers have signed onto a bill that would make Minnesota a so-called sanctuary state, and supporters plan to rally around the proposal next week.

Rep. Sandra Feist, DFL-New Brighton, and Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, will carry the bill. 

Hundreds of U.S. cities have declared themselves sanctuary cities, and 12 states have declared themselves sanctuary states, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

The bill is likely to draw fierce criticism from Republicans, whose standard bearer former President Donald Trump has made immigration a central focus of his campaign. Trump recently ordered Republicans in Washington to sabotage work they’ve done on a bipartisan measure to reduce illegal border crossings, lest President Joe Biden be able to campaign on a bipartisan solution. 

Moderate Democrats like U.S. Rep Angie Craig have been critical of Biden’s immigration policies and the chaos at the border.  

Feist said the Minnesota bill incorporates all of the best aspects of other states’ bills while also addressing “lessons learned.”

The North Star Act (SF2724, HF2680) prohibits state and local agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to deport people. 

Under the proposal, local and state agencies wouldn’t be able to collaborate with or share data with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to enforce immigration laws, but could still do so to investigate criminal activity.

ICE regularly subpoenas local agencies for vast amounts of information, said Feist, who is an immigration attorney.

“We don’t want to waste our precious resources on enforcing a broken federal immigration system,” Feist said. “It’s a really big priority for me this session because Donald Trump has said that he wants to marshal state and local resources to enact his immigration vision. And he said that that vision includes rounding up immigrants and putting them in massive camps, including immigrants in the United States. And this may be our last opportunity to pass a law like this that would ensure that the state of Minnesota is not complicit in that vision.”

A law would provide clarity and uniformity should a Trump administration pressure government officials to enforce immigration law, Feist said.

Many undocumented people avoid reporting crimes, cooperating with investigations or seeking emergency help due to fear of being detained by police or deported.

Gov. Tim Walz has said in the past he supports such a law.

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