Minneapolis is preparing to hire a point person on immigration and refugee affairs to counteract President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
On Tuesday, the city’s Executive Committee — which includes Mayor Jacob Frey, Council President Lisa Bender and Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins — approved a position in the city coordinator’s office that will monitor immigration issues, recommend policies to the City Council and work on helping residents obtain citizenship.
The job, which must be approved by the full City Council, will pay at least $95,000 per year and require a master’s or law degree. Funding for the new immigration staffer was included in the 2018 budget adopted by the council last fall. The city hopes to make the hire by the end of April.
“Immigrant and refugee issues have become a greater concern over the last year or so with the new administration,” said David Rubedor, assistant city coordinator. “We’ve always had a great amount of work being done, but we have a current onslaught of issues coming from the federal government related to our residents and our city, and this position will be able to help address that.”
The person who’s hired will help the city craft policies for a municipal ID and “get more aggressive” about promoting citizenship. The coordinator’s office already has three staffers working on immigrant and refugee matters, but they work in other areas across city government, Rubedor said.
In December, the City Council directed staff to look into the possibility of a municipal ID program and report back by March 31.
Whether Minneapolis is a “sanctuary city” is a matter of some debate, since the term has no legal definition. Minneapolis and St. Paul have separation ordinances that prohibit their police from acting as immigration enforcement agents. The Minneapolis ordinance was passed in 2003.
The Hennepin County jail, over which the City Council has no control, does not honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold inmates who’ve been flagged in the system. But jail officials do cooperate with ICE in some ways, including notifying the agency when an inmate is about to be released.