DFL lawmakers push bill to make Minnesota a ‘sanctuary’ state for undocumented immigrants, Republicans warn of economic burden
Some DFL lawmakers aim to make Minnesota a “sanctuary” state for undocumented immigrants and prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Rep. Sandra Feist, DFL-New Brighton, and Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, the chief authors of the “North STAR Act,” unveiled the bill during a news conference Thursday morning at the State Capitol.
“The North STAR Act says that Minnesota does not terrorize its residents,” Feist said. “Minnesota does not waste precious public dollars enforcing broken federal immigration laws.”
Proponents of the North STAR Act say that it will accomplish the following:
- Prohibiting local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement by ensuring that ICE detainers, transfer requests, and 287(g) agreements are ignored.
- Mitigating data of Minnesota residents from being “sold or inappropriately acquired by immigration authorities or databases” for immigration enforcement.
- Banning state government officials from acting as immigration enforcers and reducing interactions with law enforcement.
- Building trust and inclusion between state officials and immigrant communities.
“Minnesota has a long history of welcoming new Americans to our communities and our state is better off because of it,” Fateh said.
Republican leaders in the state Legislature sounded off on the bill, saying welcoming undocumented immigrants to Minnesota could create a large financial weight for the state to bear.
“Think about our counties, our schools, those institutions. Our health care systems. I mean this is a huge burden on our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks.
There is also a fundamental disagreement over enforcing laws.
“The state enforces the state laws. It is the federal government’s job to enforce federal law,” Feist said.
Republicans push back with what they view as a fundamental role of government.
“The role of government is to create laws and then enforce them, and I think that’s what we need to do here in Minnesota,” House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said.
A news release from the North Star Alliance shared, in part, the following message:
“The North STAR Act aims to safeguard our vibrant yet targeted immigrant communities, addressing the challenges faced by non-citizens who contribute significantly to Minnesota. These individuals—our family members, neighbors, and friends—face obstacles that hinder their safety and well-being. Fear of disclosing immigration status prevents them from seeking vital assistance during crisis. Racial profiling leads to unwarranted detentions and deportations, perpetuating mistrust among citizens and non-citizens alike. Many have been robbed of their dignity and their right to live their lives free of fear. This bill seeks to remedy these injustices by restoring safety, trust, and respect to our communities.”
According to the National Association of State Legislatures, there are 10 states with sanctuary state legislation and nine states that prohibit governments from implementing sanctuary laws.
Last year, Gov. Tim Walz signed legislation expanding access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.