Senate Bill 445 (2015): Sanctuary Cities

Legislative Update
September 25, 2015 (updated September 29)

Senate Bill 445 - "Prohibition of Sanctuary City Policies"


Primary SponsorMike Kowall (Republican, 15th State Senate District, Commerce Township Lyon Township, Milford Township, Northville, Novi, Novi Township, Orchard Lake, South Lyon, Walled Lake, West Bloomfield Township, White Lake Township, Wixom)
Bill Status
- Introduced in the Michigan Senate September 9, 2015
- Referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee September 9, 2015
- Heard at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, September 29, 2015 (testimony was taken, but no vote was taken)
Bill Summary
Michigan Senator Mike Kowall introduced a bill that would "prohibit local units of government from enacting or enforcing 'sanctuary city' laws" in Michigan. Further information about the bill is now available on the Michigan Legislature website and the text can be found here.


Background and Analysis:

The bill is identical to a 2009 bill, HB 4044, lead sponsor Rep. Kim Melzer, which did not become law.  Some referred to that legislation as an "Arizona Copycat" bill, because it was introduced in Michigan shortly after Arizona's well known SB 1070 bill became law there.  Many parts of SB 1070 were ultimately found by the U.S. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional in Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. __ (2012).


The current Michigan bill, SB 445, would prohibit local units of government from enacting or enforcing any law, ordinance, policy, or rule that limits or prohibits a peace (police) officer or local official, officer, or employee from communicating or cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officials about the immigration status of individuals. 


The governmental unit would be required to provide written notice to each employee within the governmental unit of his or her duty to cooperate with appropriate federal and state officials concerning the enforcement of federal and state immigration laws. 


The bill states that a peace officer who has "probable cause" to believe that an individual under arrest is not legally present in the U.S. shall report that individual to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (In Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court prohibited stops based exclusively on immigration status and noted that a law which required state officials to delay the release of detainees for no reason other than to verify their immigration status would "raise constitutional concerns.")


If a local unit of government fails to comply with one or more sections of SB 445, the state treasurer would have to withhold state funding to the local unit of government. 


The bill's approach is inconsistent with efforts by local law enforcement to engage in community-based policing.  Building trust among police and immigrant communities has been shown to support overall public safety.  In addition, there is a wide body of evidence about immigrants' lower rates of criminality that policies targeting immigrants fail to acknowledge.