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On the first day of the 2024 legislative session, we introduced the North Star Act in the Minnesota State Legislature. Since then, we've received many emails with concerns based on a misunderstanding of this bill. We are here to set the record straight and share how the North Star Act would benefit not just immigrants, but Minnesotans across the state.

The North Star Act would prohibit collaboration and data-sharing between state and local governments, such as schools, law enforcement, public health facilities and courts, with the federal government when it is for the sole purpose of immigration enforcement. The bill would not prevent cooperation with federal law enforcement when investigating or arresting people suspected of crimes. Bad actors would still be held accountable, while residents who aren't a threat to public safety would be able to live their lives in peace, not fear.

Under current law, we are allowing the federal government to overreach in how it relies on our state and local governments to enforce its laws. Many local police departments are wasting valuable time and energy responding to requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is a federal civil enforcement agency, not a law enforcement agency. This creates confusion on what our local law enforcement agencies are required and allowed to share. This eats up officers' time and Minnesotans' public safety dollars, and leaves fewer officers available to respond to emergency calls in our communities.

The North Star Act would clear up this confusion felt by local precincts and corrections facilities so these agencies can focus on their jobs — stopping crime and making our communities safer. Further, it would allow our schools to focus solely on education, our courts to focus on our legal rights and our public health care clinics to focus on health care rather than complex questions of federal law.

This is also a broader issue of safety for our neighborhoods and communities. The North Star Act would foster trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. Imagine you are the victim of a crime — whether a robbery, a hit-and-run car accident or violent assault — and the primary or only witness is an immigrant. Right now, that witness might refuse to come forward to participate in the investigation due to fears of deportation. Ensuring the safety of our immigrant communities would mean that Minnesotans can have each other's backs without fear. It'll also guarantee that immigrants who are victims of crimes are able to safely come forward, helping to hold perpetrators accountable before they offend again. This is a particular concern when it comes to immigrant victims of domestic violence, who are uniquely vulnerable.

Finally, when we allow ICE to rip members of our communities away from us, we all lose. Immigrants meet critical workforce needs that are only going to increase with Minnesota's aging population and declining birthrates. Recent Minnesota data shows $14.1 billion in immigrant spending power, $5.2 billion in taxes paid by immigrants, and more than 24,000 immigrant entrepreneurs. Over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates a $7 trillion increase in GDP thanks to immigrants.

New Americans are all around us. They are our neighbors, our child care providers, our health care workers, our chefs, farmers, laborers, engineers and so much more. Former President Donald Trump has explicitly said that if he is elected again, he will mobilize state and local resources to round up immigrants into mass detention camps. The North Star Act would ensure that any future Trump administration cannot deputize Minnesotans to enforce these inhumane policies, tearing apart families, communities and our economy. The time to stand together and protect our community is now.

Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, is a member of the Minnesota Senate. Sandra Feist, DFL-New Brighton, is a member of the Minnesota House. Other recent Star Tribune Opinion coverage of this proposal includes "Turning Minnesota into a sanctuary state is a mistake" (March 4) and "Don't stop immigration policy changes in Minnesota before they start" (Feb. 23).