County board opposes DFL sanctuary state measure

The so-called North Star Act would prohibit cooperation on the part of local, county and state law enforcement agencies with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

American Experiment’s latest Thinking Minnesota poll shows Minnesotans overwhelmingly oppose the proposed legislation to turn this into a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.

The proposal to prohibit any Minnesota entity from cooperating with federal immigration authorities is opposed by 59% of respondents, with 47% saying they are “strongly opposed.” An even greater number of Minnesotans (69%) believe the federal government is not doing enough about illegal immigration and the crisis at the border.

After considerable blowback, DFL lawmakers claim their controversial bill is off the table for this legislative session.

But the Renville County Board puts little to no stock in that pledge. So commissioners plowed ahead recently with an in-your-face resolution that leaves no doubt about where the southern Minnesota county stands on cooperating with federal agencies on immigration investigations.

Renville County Board Chair Randy Kramer said he has read and heard media reports that small counties are “wasting their time” opposing the North STAR Act because it will not be approved by the Minnesota Legislature. But Kramer said he does not trust that assessment, stating that the current House and Senate bills could become part of a larger omnibus bill approved in private negotiations as the session ends.

Prior to the unanimous passage of the resolution, the board held a public meeting to give a full house of constituents the opportunity to weigh in on the issue. The overrunning of the U.S. border with Mexico by millions of illegal immigrants served as the backdrop for residents’ concerns noted by the West Central Tribune.

David Igl, who had urged the county to oppose the act, said that county and state resources would be overwhelmed by the influx of illegal immigrants that he said would arrive if Minnesota were made a sanctuary state. He cited costs to health care and education and other public services that would see increases in demand.

Minnesota’s location far from the southern border provides no protection from an influx of illegal arrivals, he added, while also expressing his concerns about illegal entry from the northern border.

The speakers supporting the resolution included the county’s top law enforcement official.

Commissioner Greg Snow told those attending the hearing that the commissioners have already made known their opposition to the North STAR Act to state legislators.

Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable was among those who voiced concerns about the North STAR Act. The House and Senate bills “would strip local law enforcement of even the ability to communicate with our federal partners, and that is what they are, our federal partners.”

“Not only is the North STAR Act bad public policy, it is dangerous,” Hable said. He said the role of law enforcement is to protect the public, and this act would prevent officers from working together to do so.

Beyond that, county officials expressed concerns the designation could open up law enforcement and other staff to unintended legal consequences.

WHEREAS, SF2724 and HF2860 interferes with the County and its employees’ ability to perform current functions, imposes implementation hurdles and burdens upon the County, creates ambiguity and possible conflicts with federal law, may subject the County and its employees to statutory violations, employment consequences, and possible civil and criminal liability.

The ill-conceived and dangerous legislation to designate Minnesota the thirteenth sanctuary state may be dead for now, but the Renville County Board isn’t taking any chances.