In Michigan and throughout the United States, immigration continues to be a major issue. Federal and state lawmakers are debating as to how to address concerns while still allowing people the right to come to and stay in the U.S. One aspect of immigration that has been hotly contested is checking people’s immigration status during police investigations. Those who are accused of committing crimes or are simply caught up in a police investigation have rights, but if they are checked to see if they are in the country illegally as part of the investigation, it could result in unforeseen challenges. A newly introduced state law can impact people who might be in jeopardy due to their immigration status.
Two bills in the Michigan House could worry immigrants
The Michigan House introduced two new bills that would allow law enforcement to contact federal immigration if it is finds undocumented people. Local governments are currently allowed to pass ordinances that prevents or limits this, but the proposed law would change that. Many areas give certain rights to undocumented people. Michigan legislators have disagreed about it for several years with similar proposals having been made from 2017 onward. Those proposals never got very far and were not voted on by the full House.
If the bills were to pass, officers who encounter people who are perceived as threatening or dangerous could check their legal status in the U.S. If they are not in the country legally, federal law enforcement could then be contacted to further investigate and take appropriate action. Officers who do this would be shielded from losing their jobs. Currently, officers can be penalized for contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There is fear over racial profiling and officers using a simple traffic stop to call ICE on a person. In addition, people who are concerned about their or loved ones’ immigration status might hesitate when in need of help from the police due to fear of a potential check and ICE becoming involved.
Immigrants should know their rights and be protected
U.S. immigration law can be complex. Despite this new proposal not yet becoming a law, it is an example of the ways in which lawmakers who are taking a hardline on immigration might try to use deft legal maneuvering to implement laws that could be problematic for immigrants. Regardless of immigration status, being encountered by law enforcement might stoke anxiety. This law would add to it. People who are thinking about any aspect of immigration whether it is family immigration, naturalization, citizenship, student visas, deportation and more should be fully shielded and have professional guidance to protect their rights.