Sen. Gene Dornink: Minnesota cannot afford to be the next sanctuary state

Published 5:29 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

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Friends and neighbors,

Before the start of session, Democrats held a press conference introducing legislation to make Minnesota a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants.

During my conversations with members of our community, I haven’t heard from anyone who is against legal immigration. We all understand and appreciate those who come to this country in an orderly and legal way, with a desire to work and raise their families here in this great country. What most folks are concerned about are millions of people illegally walking across the border.

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Under the Biden administration, an estimated 7.3 million people have crossed the border illegally. To put this in context, this is more than the state of Minnesota’s 5.7 million population. How does this influx of people impact our schools, hospitals and housing? We can look to New York City, Chicago and other “sanctuary” cities to see what problems arise.

If Minnesota adopts sanctuary status, taxpayers will be further burdened with the heavy costs associated with illegal immigration. Our social services will also be further strained. This would not be fair to the citizens of Minnesota, and we are already seeing alarming examples of our state giving illegal immigrants special treatment.

Last year, Democrats passed legislation requiring taxpayers to pay for free college, health care and other welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. Included in these benefits is a policy where non-citizens can apply for a Minnesota driver’s license. This license is identical to that of legal residents, making law enforcement more difficult.

Yet Democrats are seeking to prohibit state and local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities–authorities who are seeking to deport those in Minnesota illegally. We don’t know what country the illegal immigrants are coming from or what their real purpose is for being here. Yes, many are good people looking to start a new life in America. But there are still some without such pure intentions, and who instead, are looking to cause harm and mayhem in our country and state.

As we reflect on the implications of adopting sanctuary status, we must also consider the impacts this would have on our law enforcement officers.

This week, fellow legislators and I had the privilege to meet up with our county sheriffs who came to the Capitol to share their concerns and pleas for support. I sat in on this meeting and listened to their passionate appeals to the Speaker of the House. One sheriff shared, “Our job is to enforce the law. We don’t pick and choose which ones. Please support us in doing our job.”

If the Democrats’ sanctuary state bill becomes law, we ignore the pleas of our law enforcement officers.

This bill does not help nor support law enforcement or make Minnesota a safer place to live. For that reason, I will not support this legislation or any policy that does not assist the brave men and women who serve us.

In light of the border emergency, we should not make our state an even more inviting place to escape the consequences of violating immigration law. Minnesota cannot afford to be the next sanctuary state.