Senate GOP proposes shrinking jail funds to Michigan ‘sanctuary cities’

A Senate budget change would affect the state’s County Jail Reimbursement Program, which refunds local jails that house felons. About 80 percent of felons are housed in local jails rather than state prisons, said DOC spokesman Chris Gautz. (Bridge photo by Riley Beggin)

LANSING — Michigan communities that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration officials could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars under a proposed Department of Corrections budget recommended by the Republian-led Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

The budget proposal would stop certain state payments to local jails that house convicted felons if those communities have policies prohibiting “communicating or cooperating” with federal immigration authorities.

The move isn’t likely to save the state any money — the bill for housing felons would shift from local jails to the Department of Corrections. County jails in Kent, Kalamazoo and Washtenaw counties would instead likely lose money because of policies that are not fully cooperative with federal immigration officials.

Related: Bills to bar Michigan 'sanctuary cities' face headwinds in Lansing

Under a 2011 program, the state reimburses local law enforcement for housing felons in local jails rather than sending them to state prisons; the Senate-proposed budget would not pay back so-called “sanctuary cities” for their cost to house felons locally.

“I think it’s an important standard that we uphold that we want all facets of law enforcement to work collaboratively and cooperate together with one another, and this is a good motivator for them to do that,” said Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, on Wednesday.

Chris Gautz, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said the agency opposes the new language. If funding is withheld from “sanctuary cities” and counties, those areas will likely decide instead to send more felons (regardless of immigration status) to state prisons instead, which would require the department to reopen closed housing units and spend more money on overtime staffing, he said. Only 20 percent of felons are currently sent to state prisons and are primarily housed locally.

Those felons sent to state facilities “otherwise could have served time in their county jail, been closer to their community and not have to carry the stigma of having served time in prison which we know can make it harder to find employment upon release,” Gautz said.

“Allowing them to serve these sentences in their county jail is a far better solution for everyone involved, not just the individual sentenced but the taxpayers of that county and of the state.”

The change would have the largest impact on Kent County, Gautz said, which currently receives $1.1 million under the reimbursement program. Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young announced earlier this year that the county would not detain immigrants for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency without a warrant after local law enforcement handed over to federal immigration authorities a U.S. citizen and Marine veteran, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez.

The Department of Corrections did not bring these concerns to the Senate subcommittee, Barrett said, “but ultimately we write the laws and they execute the laws.” Barrett added that the change is not directed at any specific community.

Gautz said the budget change could also affect counties such as Kalamazoo and Washtenaw in the future, which receive $975,000 and $250,000 from the program respectively.

“We’ll just have to explore (the issue of counties turning felons over to the state) but as a matter of a good course of practice we ought to have law enforcement working collaboratively together,” Barrett said.

Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, offered an amendment to the bill that would have eliminated the “sanctuary city” language, but it failed 12-6 along party lines. Hollier said the DOC budget is not the appropriate place for such a proposal.

“This is a political statement more than a policy action,” Hollier said. “The courts would be hard-pressed to support something like this.”

The move is the latest policy proposal to impact areas that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials; a House committee passed a bill that would similarly bar policies preventing cooperation with ICE, though it has not yet received a vote in a second House committee.

The Senate budget for the Department of Corrections passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning 12-6 along party lines. Some House budget proposals are being voted on in committee this week.

Once both chambers have full budget proposals complete, they will negotiate a joint budget through a conference committee to send to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has the power to line-item veto specific elements of the budget. Overriding a veto would require a two-thirds vote by each chamber of the state legislature.

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Wed, 05/01/2019 - 9:01pm

Lets see, we have Democrat / Socialist / Activist / Lawyers in the Northern Triangle of South America & Mexico; even as you read this instructing the populations the "benefits" & laws of coming top the USA....."credible fear." Then you have a Democrat House saying the crisis is "manufactured" as literally thousands attack our border daily? National Sovereignty is a myth to Democrats. The crisis is the Democrats themselves. Make no mistake about this, Democrats want this to happen and never stop.. They will with hold support allowing as many illegal aliens to enter the country before assisting in border security (if ever). Democrats offer rewards, incentives so.....More caravans on the way.

The current migration at our border is costing U.S taxpayers a Kings ransom. Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don't stay in Mexico when they reach "safety" or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars. Notice how many have made the long, difficult, dangerous journey to our country 8-9 months pregnant? Give birth on American soil and the U.S. taxpayers will not only pay for the birth of you're child but will also give you state government assistance.

To Democrats/Progressives/Socialists (whats the difference?) programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs. There is nothing "temporary or deferred" about these programs to Democrats. These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great.
Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

* City emergency services Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers also pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications....everything. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

*Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. It is estimated nearly 100,000 illegal aliens graduate each do the math. School class size are also negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

*Taxpayers in some states are funding "in state college tuition" discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

*About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, & more than 90% of those are in the U.S illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate.

*$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system.

*$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches. Visit youtube search "cost of illegal immigration."

*Mexico received 33 billion last year in remittance from our country. $120 billion total was sent out of the United States in total remittance last year.

*Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

* Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens & their families in poverty in many cases wait years behind non citizens for emergency housing.

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 3:53pm

What xenophobic tripe! I assume your figures are derived at best from Fox Fiction but more likely from alt-right websites. What a shame that people like you didn't turn your forebears away at the border!

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:19pm

Your statements exemplify why we are no longer the greatest nation. Rather than offer solutions you blame your fellow citizens and hurl disparaging remarks about "Democrats/Socialists/ Activists and Lawyers"
Your greed and narrow views are abysmal. People like you make me ashamed to be considered an "American"

Fred J
Fri, 05/03/2019 - 9:24am

We give more money to businesses that hire refugees.

Jonah 4
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 10:35am

Given the major problems with roads, water and sewer infrastructure and school funding, the Republicans are acting like dolts with this cut in funding proposal for local jails. They need to focus their attention on roads, infrastructure and educational funding rather than the nonsense they turn to in an appeal to Trump. We are in deep trouble with the Republican dolts in the Michigan House and the Senate. Gad! the House and Senate majorities act like they are brain dead as they ignore the grave issues that affect the voters in this State and and that concern voters greatly.

Don Sepanski
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:31pm

Good for the Senate! There should be no sanctuary cities in Michigan, and certainly the taxpayers of this State shouldn't be paying their way.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:46pm

If they don't want to cooperate, then they should be top on the list when ICE turns illegal aliens loose in the country as part of "catch and release".

They will change their position very shortly thereafter.

Paul Jordan
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 4:33pm

How typical. With all the genuine problems in this state, the Republican state senate wants to focus on a headline-grabber that does nothing for anyone.
Look, people...fifty years ago we were one of the best performing states in the nation as far as transportation, K-12 education, and higher education were concerned! Now, we're worried about being better than Mississippi! This is NOT progress.
The fools (i.e., party) in charge in the state legislature is one of the main reasons for our decline.

Fred J
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 5:35pm

Line item veto makes this just another Republican political exercise of futility.

They could work on solving problems that effect people in Michigan instead, but that would be what the people want... so it will not happen.

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 8:34am

Defend all sanctuary cities no need wast our tax dollars