Fed up with illegal immigration, a state legislator wants to crack down on communities with ordinances that prohibit the profiling of immigrants and minorities by hitting the municipalities in the pocketbook.
Under a bill introduced this week by State Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, cities such as Detroit would lose millions in state revenue sharing money if they have laws that prohibit police and other city employees from targeting people based on appearance.
The Detroit City Council passed an anti-profiling ordinance in May after receiving complaints from immigrants and U.S. citizens who said they were being pulled over by police and asked about their immigration status based on how they look. Hamtramck is considering a similar ordinance.
But Meltzer said she's tired of the government having to pay for bilingual programs for students and those who are in the United States illegally. National security also is a concern, she said.
"We've had enough of this," Meltzer said. "It's so unfair and wrong ... let's push back."
Supporters of the anti-profiling ordinances say that Meltzer's bill ignores the fact that the ordinances allow police investigating crimes to ask people about their immigration status.
"There's nothing radical at all about this ordinance," Juan Escareño said of the Detroit anti-profiling law. He works on immigration issues for Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES), a Detroit-based coalition of 65 groups in southeastern Michigan that led the push for the Detroit ordinance. "In fact, it's based on the U.S. Constitution," which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures.
He and others said Meltzer's bill was a publicity stunt that divides the region.
"All this ordinance does is clarify a person's constitutional rights," Escareño said of the Detroit anti-profiling ordinance. "Instead of writing this bill, she should spend time reading the U.S. Constitution and think about the state budget crisis."
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was one of the supporters of the Detroit anti-profiling ordinance.
"It's really shameful that an elected official is using proposed legislation to cause more racial division in Michigan," Walid said. "Michigan is a state that is in a dire fiscal crisis and does not need to be seen ... as an immigrant-unfriendly state. ... How can a person just look at someone and suspect whether they're legal or not?" (MORE