The longtime mayor of Lansing -- the state capital of Michigan -- defended his executive action to effectively make the city a sanctuary for illegal aliens. Mayor Virgil Bernero (D) appeared on Fox News on Wednesday to defend his action despite warnings from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that jurisdictions defying federal immigration laws will face cuts in federal funding.
Bernero’s executive action claims that the city is in compliance with federal law, but states that municipal police officers will not stop, pursue or arrest anyone based solely on immigration status or violations of immigration laws. In addition, Lansing police will not ask about the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses.
Show host Tucker Carlson asked Bernero when is it proper for a local jurisdiction to defy federal law. Carlson accused Bernero of making a “fashionable moral statement,” asking him whether ignoring federal immigration laws makes a community safer.
While Bernero said that it is never proper to defy federal law, but added that his attorneys have assured him that his executive order does comport with the law and “the federal system.”
Bernero said he would welcome advice from President Donald Trump and Sessions on public safety, which he acknowledged is his chief duty. Bernero denied that his executive order flouts federal laws and claimed that "community policing works.
“What I issued in my executive order is a statement of what we’re already doing. Crime is going down in Lansing, and we believe in community policing.”
However, he said that he would never "federalize" Lansing’s police to enforce federal law on immigration. Saying that he values the concept of "community policing" in Lansing, he complained that compliance with federal law would make local law enforcement into an "occupying force."
When Carlson asked how a police force native to the area could "occupy" its own hometown, Bernero claimed "It's easy for white men like us, to say that, who are in the majority, who enjoy what we enjoy.” Carlson countered, saying "I was taking you seriously in the beginning but this is just buffoonish. I'm a white man so my views on this are less real or something?"
"Try to walk in another man's shoes," Bernero said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Bernero’s office published his reasons for the executive order. Bernero stated, “It’s time to put clear policies in place to give city officials, including law enforcement, the tools they need to help keep our entire community safe.” Bernero continued on a partisan course, stating, “With the various immigrant and refugee-related controversies coming out of the Trump White House and from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, many in our community have raised question.,” He added, “I am issuing this executive order to empower our officers in these legal gray areas, while still protecting the interests of all Lansing residents.”
The statement claimed that Bernero’’s order “will help develop new procedures, designed to preserve and enhance existing relationships between the Lansing community and our police officers, building upon the [police] Department’s longstanding record of credibility and community policing orientation.”
On Monday, Lansing’s city council passed a “sanctuary” resolution, bolstering Bernero’s executive action. However, the impact of both remains ambiguous since the definition of “sanctuary” is not included. Bernero’s order omits the words "sanctuary city," but the council’s resolution "declares the City of Lansing a sanctuary city according to the mayor's April 3, 2017 executive order and this resolution." On February 2, Bernero told the Lansing State Journal that the city was already “sanctuary enough.”
In an email to the newspaper, Justice Department spokesman Ian D. Prior reacted to the developments in Lansing: "Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses makes our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets."