TC human rights official says sanctuary city designation is not necessary

Jul 11, 2017

Protesters gathered outside the Governmental Center in Traverse City in May as the Human Rights Commission held a hearing on the city's sanctuary city status.
Credit Aaron Selbig

A local human rights official is proposing Traverse City not become a sanctuary city. Earlier this year, community members asked the Traverse City Human Rights Commission to explore the designation. Sanctuary city status would mean local law enforcement would not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), potentially protecting people living in the country illegally from deportation.

In response to the request, the Human Rights Commission formed a Sanctuary City Ad Hoc Committee. Over the past months, the committee has researched and discussed the option and taken public comment. But they have been met with strong public opposition.

Now, commissioner and committee head Isiah Smith has drafted a resolution saying Traverse City does not need to become a sanctuary city.

"No one has encountered an undocumented immigrant issue here," Smith says. "This is not L.A. or Miami or New York and other major metropolis where you might have such an issue." 

Smith says this is his impression after speaking to local law enforcement who, he says, are also not in favor of becoming a sanctuary city.

Smith does say the city should be promoting diversity and legal immigration more.

"I think it’s important to send a message that Traverse City welcomes everyone, and we respects the rights of all citizens," he says.

Smith notes that the resolution reflects his opinions and views alone. He says he drafted it because it was time to move the conversation forward. 

On Tuesday night, the Sanctuary City Ad Hoc Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. at Government Center in Traverse City. Other committee members will have an opportunity to share their opinions during that meeting. It is unknown whether they will vote on the resolution Tuesday night.