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What the conflict over ‘sanctuary cities’ could mean for the Twin Cities

MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges says she doesn’t want the Minneapolis Police Department to get involved with immigration issues.

Last week, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined a growing number of officials from major cities across the country in re-affirming her support of undocumented immigrants and opposing president-elect Donald Trump pledge to isolate so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Trump has said he wants local, state and federal governments to work together in executing a plan that was one of his signature campaign issues: repatriating millions of unauthorized immigrants in the first few days of his presidency. 

But Hodges — like her counterparts in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and dozens of other cities nationwide — said she doesn’t want the Minneapolis Police Department to get involved with immigration issues, which is the responsibility of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.  

“For years, Minneapolis has codified an ordinance that our police officers will not do the work of the federal government and ICE regarding immigration status,” she said. “If police officers were to do the work of ICE it would harm our ability to keep people safe and solve crimes.” 

Here’s what the conflict over sanctuary cities could mean: for the Twin Cities’ undocumented population — and for cities like Minneapolis that choose to defy the new president.  

What are “sanctuary cities” and what does it mean for undocumented immigrants who live in them?

Sanctuary cites are cities that have taken a stand not to criminalize their residents for their immigration status, says longtime immigration attorney Laura Tripiciano, who’s based in Minnesota. In most cases, local officers in sanctuary cities are prohibited from asking individuals about their immigration status unless they’re arrested for a serious offense.  

Such cities also have policies and practices that limit collaboration between local government employees and federal authorities when it comes to immigration matters — mainly to protect the relationship between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.  

That’s because city leaders want their residents to feel safe to come forward as witnesses and victims of crimes without the fear of detention or deportation, as Hodges explained in her statement: “[They] won’t come forward if they think our police officers will question or detain them about their immigration status,” she said. “Our ordinance has helped us solve crimes and keep communities safer. If our police were doing the work of ICE, Minneapolis would be less safe for everyone, regardless of immigration status.”

The idea, Tripiciano added, is that residents should be able to live and to access city services, including police, hospitals, transportation and other public services that everybody else can access — without being afraid because of their status. 

How long have sanctuary cities existed?

In 1979, Los Angeles became the first sanctuary city, and more than 200 other municipalities have become sanctuary cities since, including several in Minnesota. Minneapolis became a sanctuary city in 2003, when city council members voted to prevent cops from asking people about their immigration status or enforcing immigration laws.

So, does that mean undocumented people living in these cities cannot be detained or deported?

No. Federal immigration enforcement doesn’t need local government’s permission to arrest unauthorized immigrants. And ICE has detained and deported millions of people in cities across the country — sanctuary or not. The only thing that sanctuary cities mean is that city police officers are prohibited from asking residents for immigration papers, or arresting them just because they live here without documents.       

Laura Tripiciano
Laura Tripiciano

The Minneapolis ordinance that explains the city’s policy says, “The city works cooperatively with the Homeland Security, as it does with all state and federal agencies, but the city does not operate its programs for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws. The Homeland Security has the legal authority to enforce immigration laws in the United States, in Minnesota and in the city.”

Donald Trump has been saying that he will “end” sanctuary cities. Could he actually do that?

In promoting his immigration policies during the campaign, Trump and other Republican leaders often cited the story of Kathryn Steinle, who was killed in San Francisco — a sanctuary city — by an undocumented immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a man who had a lengthy criminal history.

Trump says that sanctuary cities serve as safe havens for people like Lopez-Sanchez, and he wants these cities to hand over criminals without authorization to ICE. If they don’t, Trump has promised to “cancel all federal funding” to sanctuary cities, including Minneapolis.

So far, Trump hasn’t shared specifics on how he plans to do that. After he was elected, he reiterated his plan to deport undocumented immigrants in an interview with “60 Minutes.” But he hasn’t said anything about whether he still plans to cut funding to sanctuary cities, which he can’t do without the support of Congress, which is controlled by Republicans but also narrowly divided with Democrats.

Conservatives in Washington have repeatedly tried to cut funding to sanctuary cities in the past. Earlier this year, in fact, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey proposed bill was proposed this year that would have cut off funds — including Economic Development Administration Grants and Community Development Block Grants — to sanctuary cities.

How much money are we talking about here, and who would be most affected? 

The City of Minneapolis’ 2016 adopted budget identifies money from federal grants making up 2 percent of the city’s revenue, though that number might not take into account the entirety of the feds’ contribution. In some cities, federal grants makes up as much as 5 to 10 percent of the budget. In short, if Trump succeeds in getting a law through Congress, it would have real impact on Minneapolis residents, as the city has used the federal grants and allocations to improve public safety, increase equity and provide resources for needy residents.

In her statement, Hodges also argued that any policy change would be a serious detriment to local police: “If Congress follows through on president-elect Trump’s threat to cities, they will have our hardworking officers bear the brunt of their own obstructionism,” she said. “The complete failure of President-elect Trump’s allies in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform should not be borne by our local police officers who already have a tough job to do.”

Could this have any effect on the state economy?

Absolutely. Tripiciano said that if police officers were forced to round up everyone who’s here without authorization, there will be numerous businesses that would have to close down. “You don’t want to put the companies that employ their community members at risk by taking away a large chunk of their workforce,” she added. “That just doesn’t make any sense.”

Comments (37)

  1. Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2016 - 12:31 pm.


    “if police officers were forced to round up everyone who’s here without authorization, there will be numerous businesses that would have to close down.”

    It always amazes me that the same people who are lobbying for higher minimum wages, more jobs for minorities and more social services are often against deporting illegal workers.

    The last number I read was 90,000 illegal workers in MN. Now that is a lot of jobs that could be filled by other minority workers who are currently unemployed. Thoughts?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/23/2016 - 01:47 pm.

      One Thought

      How about focusing enforcement efforts on the businesses who employ illegals? Criminal sanctions, license revocation, heavy penalties, etc. Cut down on the demand side of the transaction, and make the problem go away by itself.

      • Submitted by Mike Schumann on 11/23/2016 - 04:52 pm.

        Employment Enforcement

        Same end result, with the benefit that people will self deport themselves when they can no longer find a job, saving us the cost of the plane ticket home. I’m sure that Trump would embrace this as a very practical and economic solution to the problem.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2016 - 05:29 pm.


        How about we do both?

        • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 11/27/2016 - 11:56 am.

          How about we do neither

          but instead push the obstructionist “leaders” in the U.S. Congress to put together a comprehensive immigration reform bill, with a lot of input from undocumented immigrants and immigration lawyers like Laura Tripiciano? People who actually live with and work with what it is to be an undocumented immigrant.
          Do you not remember that your own ancestors came here as immigrants, unless you are Native Americans or descendents of slaves? Before our government got around to making laws and rules about immigration, all immigrants were undocumented or poorly documented.
          I am one of many U.S. Citizens who are tired of our members of Congress getting away with not doing the jobs we elected them to do.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/27/2016 - 07:29 pm.


            For better or worse we came here as conquerors, not immigrants. Then we formed a government, set our country’s boundaries and set rules for legal immigration. Now if people violate our borders without the proper paperwork or overstay their visa’s, they are violating our civil law and cutting in front of innocent law abiding foreign people who are abiding by our rules and processes. And often they are taking jobs that could employee legal citizens and thus enable lower wages.

            When you are in line at a theater or store, are you okay when others cut in line ahead of you? In this case ~400,000 illegals enter the country or overstay their visas every year. Now that is some significant line budging…

            I also hope Congress starts accomplishing something. Maybe increasing the funding for border security and deportations. 🙂

            • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 11/28/2016 - 08:44 pm.

              “Conquerors, not immigrants”

              Sorry to burst your bubble, but my grandparents didn’t come here as conquerors. They were all European farmers (German and Scandinavian) and they definitely arrived as immigrants. And immigrants have always been the strength of America, even though everyone wants to be the Last Immigrant (note all the people who move to Hawaii and six months later are complaining vociferously about all those ‘mainlanders’ who are moving in and spoiling their view). How about we try to treat each other as human beings and get rid of a lot of stupid labels?

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 09:50 am.

                Technically mine also immigrated here in the mid-1800’s by following the immigration rules of the government that had seized or bought the country from it’s previous inhabitants. I was responding to Helen’s comment.

                “Do you not remember that your own ancestors came here as immigrants, unless you are Native Americans or descendants of slaves?”

                Please remember that I support legal immigration, just not allowing people to cut in line by violating those processes / rules. It is simply unfair to those who play by the rules.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2016 - 03:44 pm.


                  In the mid-1800s, there were no immigration laws. We had open borders.

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 06:11 pm.


                    Apparently that was not the case. It seems the States were responsible at first, maybe somewhat like the European Union. Then the Feds started taking it over. The processes and laws have gotten much better. Let’s enforce them.


                    Also, please remember back then we were starving for people to fill and develop all that public land. Now we have high unemployment and low wages in the low academics / low skill jobs. Let’s help our legal citizens.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/30/2016 - 09:17 am.

                      Naturalization is not the same as immigration. The first law limiting the right of aliens to enter the United States was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

                      I’m not sure where you get the idea that “States were responsible at first.” Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the power to make uniform laws on naturalization.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/30/2016 - 02:42 pm.


                      This was an interesting source.

          • Submitted by joanne jordan on 01/25/2017 - 02:31 pm.


            Granted, our ancestors came here as immigrants, but that was a different time and place. I am tired of hearing that America is made up of immigrants. How many generations does it take not to be an immigrant any longer? I am for sending all illegals back to their homeland.

  2. Submitted by Matt Bowers on 11/23/2016 - 02:30 pm.

    Alabama and Georgia

    Just take a look at what happened in Alabama and Georgia when both states passed laws aimed at ridding both states of “illegals”.

    Both states suffered economically–turns out, you need actual skills to work the fields, clean the hotels, and cook the food at restaurants. Businesses lost millions in lost productivity and training. And, amazingly, there were not busloads of “minorities” rolling out to the countryside to take on the back-breaking. low paying jobs in agriculture. And hotels and restaurants suffered because very few workers were willing to work for the low wages being offered.

    Law enforcement in both states were not particularly eager to roust “illegals” and demand IDs and green cards. Things got especially sticky when mandatory arrests were made of foreign-born workers at auto plants in both states–auto plants that both states dearly wanted. Kind of hard to explain to BMW and Honda that you are sorry you arrested the foreign folks you invited to your state because they are foreign.

    And what do you think would happen if all 90,000 “illegals” were pushed out of the state of Minnesota? Who exactly is going fill those jobs? Which “minorities” are going to line up to move to Austin or Glencoe or Moorhead to work in the fields and packing plants? Good luck with that.

    • Submitted by Mike Schumann on 11/23/2016 - 04:54 pm.

      Austin Workers

      And who used to work in the Hormel plant in Austin? They will be back if the wages go back up to where they were before the country got flooded with illegal immigrants.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/27/2016 - 05:30 pm.

      The story told by immigration activists

      That is what the immigration activists predicted and then “reported”. Of course no citations needed.

      “At the time the law was passed, it was predicted to have disastrous consequences for the state’s economy. Those predictions of economic doom failed to materialize. Alabama’s unemployment level dropped significantly after passage.

      The law even accomplished its goal of convincing illegal immigrants to leave the state — at least, initially.

      And that’s where the bill’s real failure comes in. Due to the overwhelming legal pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice and to full-force opposition from corporate lobbies, HB 56 was gutted and made virtually toothless.”

      Read more:

  3. Submitted by Nick Foreman on 11/23/2016 - 02:31 pm.

    If employers refused to hire

    Illegal immigrants, the problem would likely go away. Heaven forbid that we enforce the law against the business community.

  4. Submitted by John Coffield on 11/23/2016 - 04:09 pm.

    Sanctuary Cities

    It is very clear that lawlessness breeds more lawlessness. A Sanctuary city is a lawless policy, that invites people who are not here legally to become residents of this city … to be eligible for all the benefits of citizenship without having to go through the process of coming into the city legally or pay taxes.

    Police officers should be required to ask a person that is arrested, his/her status. Also, they should have the capability to confirm that status. If illegal, it should be the polices’ responsibility to notify immigration authorities and the illegal deported.

    The policy should not be a door to door check, this would take to too many resources. But, if a crime is committed by an illegal, they should be deported, no questions.

    Mayor Betsy Hodges wants to reduce crime. This starts with small and logical steps. She needs to give up this Sanctuary city push, it’s not sustainable for the city.

    90,000 jobs that illegals occupy, could be filled with the many inner city people that are on welfare. Since the illegals don’t pay taxes, but utilize all the city has to offer, for free. This is not fair to the legal tax paying residents.

    • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 11/23/2016 - 05:08 pm.


      you want the local police to have federal authority, huh, seems untenable, which is why those cities refuse to conduct federal business.
      But given you feel local law enforcement should also be federal authorities, what other laws should they enforce – and be specific.
      There was a case before the Court about a decade ago, Printz, where local law enforcement refused to conduct background searches for gun buyers. The reason those police won is because the Court ruled quite correctly that federal officers enforce federal laws, and local law enforcement is relegated to state or city law.
      Your stats seem inflated, perhaps you could provide a cite.

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 11/23/2016 - 04:15 pm.

    To the best of my knowledge

    Trump said illegals with criminal records would be deported, what is the issue with that? If you are here illegally and commit a crime, you should deported tomorrow.

    • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 11/23/2016 - 05:17 pm.

      A couple of things

      First, Trumps not the President yet.
      Second, and this might rock your world view, but Obama has deported more people than any other President in history. Inconvenient fact I know, but hey, what are ya gonna do about truth.
      Oh, and finally, being in this country without documentation is a civil offense, not criminal. Don’t believe me, look it up, its easy to find.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/25/2016 - 09:56 am.


        Trump didn’t run against Obama; Trump’s border policy will have more in common with Obama’s than a President Hillary. Expanding on a good thing; thanks for illuminating that point.

        While presence may not be a crime, entry is a crime.


        “Whether it’s by crossing the U.S. border with a “coyote” or buying a fake U.S. passport, a foreign national who enters the U.S. illegally can be both convicted of a crime and held responsible for a civil violation under the U.S. immigration laws. Illegal entry also carries consequences for anyone who might later attempt to apply for a green card or other immigration benefit. The penalties and consequences get progressively more severe if a person enters illegally more than once, or enters illegally after an order of removal (deportation) or having been convicted of an aggravated felony.”

    • Submitted by Max Millon on 11/28/2016 - 11:54 am.

      Defining a criminal record

      Part of the issue with this is how a criminal is defined: obviously violent offenders is one thing, but minor traffic infractions or other petty misdemeanors hardly seem worthy of deportation – especially if the individual is a productive member of their community.

  6. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 11/23/2016 - 05:31 pm.

    Doing the right thing

    The United States is a land of immigrants. It is also a place where people work and study, but return home to a better life than if they came. We need a workforce, and given our economy, that includes lots of low wage service and manual labor jobs. Undocumented workers fill that need. This arrangement is not good for them of for us. Many countries have guest worker programs. You apply, get accepted, come in legally and take a job. You work 2-4 years, compile a good work record, stay clean, and apply for some more time. If you make it 10-12 years, you may apply for citizenship. If you don’t chose to, you go home. You get paid normal wages, pay taxes and earn Social Security. Everyone is screened and has papers. Employers have legal workers. We just need to transition the majority of undocumented workers who have been her a minimum number of years. Newbies go home, but they can apply for work permits. Guest workers may have some family rights, but they are narrowly defined.

    What I have described is one way to fix the problem. Our current situation is a mess with everything Trump is suggesting does fix it, but might make it worse. We need Republicans to come up with a plan rather than band aids, and yield enough to get strong bipartisan approval that Trump will need to sign. That would take his vindictive approach off the table.

  7. Submitted by Craig Forester on 11/23/2016 - 08:48 pm.

    The unbelieveable nonsense of allowing illegal immigrants to break the law and have sanctuary in any city or state for any reason is completely unjustified, and criminal. We are a nation of laws, and when government officials refuse to uphold the laws they are entrusted with, they are aiding and abetting criminal activities and need to be arrested and held accountable as well. All illegals need to be deported, and all those that have knowingly allowed illegal aliens to stay in our communities need to be arrested as well.
    We need to put a giant kaboosh to the lawbreakers in The Democratic Party, and their Establishment Republican pals.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/27/2016 - 04:22 pm.

      One Question

      “[A]ll those that have knowingly allowed illegal aliens to stay in our communities need to be arrested as well.”

      Arrested for what? It is not a crime to be present in the country illegally. It will subject one to removal (not deportation–that is the old term), but not to criminal prosecution. Illegal entry is a crime, but there is no crime of being in the U.S. without authorization.

      A whole new, and awfully expansive, category of crime would have to be created in order to prosecute “all those that have knowingly allowed illegal aliens to stay in our communities.”

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 03:38 pm.

        Civil Law

        Over staying your VISA or crossing the border without permission is illegal. So if they are here, we are pretty sure they committed a violation.

        Now if you find someone walking around with stolen goods… Would you expect the police to find out if they were involved in a robbery?

        And if they were, would you want them released because they were not caught in the act?

        This whole let’s reward line cutters with citizenship while millions of other law abiding process following immigrants await legal entrance puzzles me greatly…

        Are there a lot of legal citizens who support people line cutting in front of them at the theater, lunch line, in traffic, etc?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/28/2016 - 04:09 pm.

          Thanks for Playing

          Illegal entry is a crime. Overstaying a visa is not a crime. It is a civil offense, subjecting one to administrative sanctions, but it is not a crime.

          “Now if you find someone walking around with stolen goods… Would you expect the police to find out if they were involved in a robbery?” Yes, I think I would. A person may have innocently purchased stolen goods, not knowing they were illegal. The offense of receiving stolen property requires proof that the defendant knew or had reason to know reason to know the property was stolen or obtained by robbery. Investigation is the key to good law enforcement.

          The issue is not rewarding “line cutters.” The issue is, are we going to prosecute people who aid or shelter “line cutters?” Suppose the person giving aid legitimately thinks the “line cutter” is a refugee, or has grounds for claiming refugee status?

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 05:58 pm.


            Sorry… The line between Civil Offense and Crime is pretty thin.

            I have no desire to punish good Samaritans, however those who knowingly aid and abet are a different story.

            What is strange here is that many here want to punish companies and people for hiring illegal workers, and yet these same people want cities / police to turn a blind eye to people who are violating our civil/ criminal statutes, depressing wages and taking jobs from our poorest legal citizens.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2016 - 09:03 am.

              A Thin Line

              “Sorry… The line between Civil Offense and Crime is pretty thin.” Well, no. Being charged with a crime triggers due process rights (Amendments 4-6, and 8) that are not present in a civil enforcement action. It’s a significant distinction.

              “What is strange here is that many here want to punish companies and people for hiring illegal workers, . . .”

              Hiring an undocumented worker is already a crime. It does not require creating a whole new category of criminals. This is just a matter of enforcing existing laws.

              “. . . and yet these same people want cities / police to turn a blind eye to people who are violating our civil/ criminal statutes, depressing wages and taking jobs from our poorest legal citizens.” If we want to protect our poorest legal citizens (all citizens are legal, but that’s another matter), how about we increase the minimum wage and expand Medicaid?

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 09:58 am.


                Much more logical to remove all of the illegal workers and let wages rise than to take more money from tax payers to have bureaucrats inefficiently distribute it amongst those who lost their jobs and incomes to illegal workers.

                Let’s attack the root cause of the issue, not treat a symptom at the expense of legal American citizens. Just imagine if 11 Million positions became available for all the low skill / low academics legal workers of the USA. Unemployment would plummet and wages would rise. Let’s support the American workers !!!

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2016 - 01:19 pm.

                  “Let’s attack the root cause of the issue . . .”

                  The root cause of the issue is employers who are willing to flout the law in order to keep their payrolls down. Undocumented aliens are not going to come if no one hires them, but if there is a demand for their efforts, they will find a way. Enforce the existing laws against employers first.

  8. Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 04:12 pm.


    It seems many here would like the US to “Enforce the existing laws against employers first.” Which to me seems like “starving the illegal residents of funds” until they self deport. Is that the plan? Not sure how we will track down the self employed aliens and their customers.

    Please help me understand how this is more humane than picking them up, feeding them, paying for a bus / plane ticket and sending them home?

    This “remove incentives” idea sounds good and a lot like why we need to strengthen security at the border. If people know they can not get across, they will stop trying… Hopefully saving a lot of innocent lives in the process.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2016 - 04:57 pm.

      “Please help me understand how this is more humane . . .”

      Because it puts the onus for compliance on the people who are creating the incentive to come here in the first place. These good and worthy capitalists are criminals, exploiting an unlawful source of labor. Why not go after them instead of building walls that will probably prove to be ineffective?

      “If people know they can not get across, they will stop trying… ” If people know that they will not be hired, they will stop trying.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 09:47 pm.


        You think it is a good idea to rapidly cut off the source of income for the ~11 million illegal workers, starve them of their income, force them to self-deport, not even buy them a bus ticket, etc.

        Okay. Sounds cold, but it should work…

        How do you expect to stop the worst employers and illegal enterprises who keep these workers totally off the books and the self employed illegals?

        By the way, better border security has 2 benefits. Fewer border jumpers and less smuggling. (ie drugs, sex slaves, field slaves, etc) So I still think it is worth locking down the border. We have the technology…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/30/2016 - 09:27 am.

          “Sounds Cold”

          Colder than removing children who come here to escape violence in central America? Or breaking up lies/forcing legal citizens to self-deport because one family member is undocumented (Yes, being the parent of an “anchor baby” is no protection against removal)?

          Oh, wait, you say we’re we’re buying them BUS TICKETS? Gosh, that changes everything.

          “How do you expect to stop the worst employers and illegal enterprises who keep these workers totally off the books and the self employed illegals?” How are we catching self-employed “illegals” now? How do you propose stopping them–interrogating every self-employed Latino? As far as the “worst employers,” treat them like common criminals who aren’t “job creators.”


          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/30/2016 - 02:30 pm.


            Starving them of income and forcing them to self deport seems to have the same result as deporting them with a bus ticket. The illegal worker with no source of income leaves the country. Or mooches off their legal friend / relative.

            As for minors, maybe some legal citizen will be okay with adopting them.

            Please remember that I am up for ensuring that no one gets across the border who shouldn’t, and deporting anyone that the police / authorities identify as illegal. In time the illegal field slaves, sex slaves, gang members and traffickers will hopefully cease to be a concern.

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