Michigan Democrat angling for Slotkin seat opposes local governments reporting illegal immigrants to ICE

A former Democratic senator from Michigan running for the seat Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) is vacating said he opposes the state’s local governments reporting illegal immigration and commended Lansing’s “sanctuary city” status.

Curtis Hertel Jr. served as a state senator in Michigan from 2015 to 2023, representing parts of Lansing. Hertel is the only Democrat running for the state’s 7th Congressional District, but he is facing scrutiny for comments he made in 2017, when he told local Michigan news outlet City Pulse that local officials should not report illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement during routine traffic stops. 

“One, I don’t like the term ‘illegal,’” Hertel said when asked about the hypothetical situation. “A lot of these people have been here a long time. A lot of them, it wasn’t their choice to come here. They were brought here as children. In my opinion, those that risk and sacrifice so much who just wanted to be part of the American experience have earned a status among Americans that a lot of us haven’t earned just by being born here. They want America. So no, I don’t believe that we should be calling ICE and actually being involved in that process. I don’t.”

While Hertel said in the interview that he didn’t think Lansing’s local officials had a “responsibility to be immigration officials,” he did say it was “perfect sense” to report illegal immigrants who have committed crimes to federal immigration authorities.

Shortly after Hertel’s April 2017 interview, Lansing approved a controversial resolution declaring itself a “sanctuary city” that was later reversed after backlash from local residents, business owners, and politicians, the Detroit Free Press reported. Last year, East Lansing became the first city in Michigan to declare itself a “sanctuary city.” Other state counties have also declared themselves safe havens for illegal immigrants, according to the outlet.

“They don’t want the immigration status to be determined by police officers, and I think that’s probably a good thing,” Hertel said. “Asking people for papers and all of those things could make Lansing an unwelcoming place for people that look different than you or I. We don’t want that in Lansing.”

In July 2023, Hertel announced he would be running to represent one of the state’s most competitive House districts. Hertel’s GOP rival, Tom Barrett, was defeated by Slotkin by 5 percentage points in 2022, making the vulnerable seat a major priority for Democrats to defend in 2024. In a recent statement to Fox News regarding the 2017 interview, Hertel slammed Barrett over his border policies as the immigration crisis increases pressure on politicians from frustrated voters wanting a solution.

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“Unlike my opponent, who only cares about using the border as a campaign tactic, in Congress, I will work with anyone toward a bipartisan border security deal that gives our immigration authorities the resources and funding they need to do their jobs,” Hertel said. 

Hertel did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.

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