Dem hoping to replace Slotkin supports letting local governments call the shots on ICE deportations

Curtis Hertel Jr. opposes municipalities reporting illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities

: A Michigan Democrat seeking to replace Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., in the House previously suggested that he opposes the idea of local governments in the state reporting illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities and voiced his support for Lansing's decision to declare itself a sanctuary city at the time.

The remarks from Curtis Hertel Jr., who served for eight years as a Michigan state senator and is the sole Democrat seeking election to represent Michigan's 7th Congressional District, came during an April 2017 conversation with City Pulse – a news outlet serving the Greater Lansing area.

Given a hypothetical situation involving an illegal immigrant who was questioned by authorities during a routine traffic stop, Hertel said he believes local law enforcement officers should not make the call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to inquire about the individual's immigration status.


Curtis Hertel, Homeland Security

Curtis Hertel Jr., a Democrat running to represent Michigan's 7th Congressional District, previously suggested that local governments should not report illegal immigrants to ICE. (Curtis Hertel campaign, Getty Images)

"One, I don't like the term ‘illegal’," Hertel said. "A lot of these people have been here a long time. A lot of them, it wasn't their choice to come here. They were brought here as children. In my opinion, those that risk and sacrifice so much who just wanted to be part of the American experience have earned a status among Americans that a lot of us haven't earned just by being born here. They want America. So no, I don't believe that we should be calling ICE and actually being involved in that process, I don't."

Hertel, who represented portions of Lansing, served in the state's upper legislative chamber from 2015 to 2023. He told the City Pulse that he believed Lansing doesn't have a "responsibility to be immigration officials."

Hertel did, however, say at the time that he favored contacting federal immigration authorities if an illegal immigrant committed a crime and is "dangerous," saying it makes "perfect sense."

Hertel's remarks came days after the Lansing City Council passed a resolution that declared Lansing a sanctuary city. That controversial declaration was later rescinded amid widespread division in the city, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Asked at the time about the council's decision, Hertel said, "The city of Lansing does not want their police officers to be immigration officials."


Migrants wait to be processed

Migrants wait to be processed by Customs and Border Protection after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, Oct. 19, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

He told the City Pulse: "They don't want the immigration status to be determined by police officers and I think that's probably a good thing… asking people for papers and all of those things could make Lansing an unwelcoming place for people that look different than you or I. We don't want that in Lansing."

Although the decision for Lansing to be declared a sanctuary city was reversed, the city council for East Lansing voted last year to declare it a sanctuary city. The Detroit Free Press reported last month that four Michigan counties – Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent and Wayne (Michigan's most populous county) – were designated safe havens for illegal immigrants.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Hertel said, "As I said in that interview, the federal government should ensure ICE has the power to deport undocumented immigrants who commit crimes."

"Unlike my opponent who only cares about using the border as a campaign tactic, in Congress, I will work with anyone toward a bipartisan border security deal that gives our immigration authorities the resources and funding they need to do their jobs."

Following Slotkin's Feb. 2023 announcement that she would run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Hertel announced last July that he was entering the race to represent Michigan's 7th District. The district encompasses all of Ingham, Livingston, Clinton and Shiawassee counties, as well as parts of Oakland and Eaton counties.

Hertel, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the district, has received endorsements from Slotkin and a handful of other Democrats in the state and previously served as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s director of legislative affairs.

Tom Barrett and Curtis Hertel

Two former Michigan state senators, Republican Tom Barrett, left, and Democrat Curtis Hertel Jr., are running to represent Michigan's 7th District. (AP Photo/File)

Hertel is likely to face off against Republican candidate Tom Barrett, the only GOP candidate in the race as of now, in the state's general election on Nov. 5. The state's primary elections are slated to take place on Aug. 6.

Barrett announced his candidacy in the race last July. In the 2022 midterm elections, he challenged Slotkin and lost in the general election by a 20,000 vote margin.

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