After the controversial immigration law passed in Arizona, Michigan has shown interest in a similar immigration law. The Arizona law passed last month directs police to stop suspected illegal aliens and ask them for documentation proving their lawful residency.
Even though Michigan doesn’t have nearly the immigration problem that the border states have, there is no official estimate of the number of illegal aliens in Michigan. Also, according to demographer Ken Darga, the counting process is pretty imprecise.
However, the issue is enough of a concern to federal border officials that they allocated about $20 million a year ago to watch the northern US border for illegal immigrants crossing from Canada.
Republican Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, is drafting a bill that would give police officers the authority to arrest illegal aliens who are stopped and questioned on another offense.
Meltzer believes that the firestorm made on the Arizona law is being misplaced. She’s proposing tightening immigration laws because there are many illegal immigrants crossing the northern US borders and that the local law enforcement has their hands tied.
Ken Grabowski, legislative director for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, also believes that a law giving local police more authority to deal with illegal aliens is something that needs to be done, because if police find someone who is here illegally, they take them to the local USCIS office. After this, the illegal alien is given a notice to appear for a later date, however nobody ever shows up.
Others are also interested in immigration state law enforcement against illegal immigrants. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard is making immigration a key topic in his race for the Republican nomination for governor. He says the federal government’s failure to secure the borders is the reason Arizona had to take action. He believes that more and more illegal immigrants are sneaking into America on the southern and northern borders. Additionally, those here illegally are stealing identities to take jobs from American citizens and legal immigrants.
Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for ACLU Michigan, said the organization will fight the Meltzer bill in the Legislature and in court if it comes to that.
“We don’t want an Arizona-style bill. It encourages racial profiling,” Weisberg said.
She added such a law would put Michigan out of step with other states and “make us look like a police state.”