Watch CBS News

Reality Check: Would Tim Walz Turn Minn. Into A Sanctuary State?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Jeff Johnson, the Republican candidate for governor, is on the attack in a new campaign ad.

He accuses Democrat Tim Walz of wanting to make Minnesota into California by turning us into a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigration.

The "Vision" ad ticks off a list of Walz's left-of-center ideas, as a woman in the background tries on different pairs of eyeglasses.

Johnson stands in the foreground, speaking to the camera:

This election is all about vision. One candidate sees a Minnesota where we all lose our health insurance, forced on to one government plan. Where we become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants, and where we all pay even higher taxes. He wants us to be California. I see a much brighter future for Minnesota, where we lower health care costs with competition and choice, where we actually enforce our laws, and you keep more of what you earn. I'm Jeff Johnson. That's my vision for Minnesota.

Tim Walz Sanctuary City Ad
(credit: Johnson For Governor)

One line stood out to us: "Where we become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants."

Johnson accuses Walz of supporting laws to limit state cooperation with federal authorities like Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is a popular Republican campaign line that Johnson repeats often, including in a recent debate.

"I believe that we should actually cooperate with the federal government when it comes to immigration, illegal immigration enforcement. And Tim believes we should become a sanctuary state," Johnson said.

Here's what you NEED TO KNOW: Hundreds of local governments have declared themselves sanctuary cities. And eight states passed laws to designate themselves "sanctuary states": Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and most recently, California.

California police CANNOT:

  • Ask about immigration status
  • Help ICE arrest anyone
  • Provide jail release dates to immigration officers

California police CAN:

  • Transfer prisoners to ICE with a warrant
  • Allow ICE interviews
  • Arrest people for illegal re-entry

There is a reason immigration is front and center: It is the number-one issue for Minnesota Republican voters.

But it barely registers on the Democratic radar, where health care is number one.

A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found Republican voters rank as their most important issues:

  • Immigration: 25 percent
  • Economy & Jobs: 22 percent
  • Taxes: 18 percent
  • Health Care: 12 percent

The Minnesota Poll found Democratic voters rank their most important issues this way:

  • Health Care: 37 percent
  • Quality of Education: 24 percent
  • Economy & Jobs: 11 percent
  • Protecting Environment: 9 percent

Walz does, indeed, support sanctuary state status for Minnesota. He released this written statement to Reality Check:

My position on Minnesota becoming a sanctuary state boils down to who has the responsibility for enforcing immigration laws. Here's what I believe: Congress has given federal agencies the authority to enforce immigration laws in Minnesota, and I support their doing so. Congress has not given local law enforcement that same authority. The role of law enforcement is to enforce state and local laws, not federal immigration laws, and I strongly believe that they should not do so.

All Minnesotans are safer when the limited resources of local law enforcement are focused on local crimes, and when everyone feels safe to cooperate fully with the police. For example, if your neighbor witnesses someone breaking into your home, you are safer when your neighbor knows their immigration status is not at risk if they call the police.

And in a recent debate, Walz defended his view that local police and federal officials should be separate.

"States that separate those two clearly have lower crime rates," Walz said. "They have better integration, and they have safer cities."

So, when Jeff Johnson says Tim Walz will turn Minnesota into a sanctuary state, it's 100-PERCENT TRUE -- and Walz is proud of it.

Here Are Some Of The Sources We used For This Reality Check:

Jeff Johnson Ad, "Vision"

Center for Immigration Studies Maps

Politifact: California's Sanctuary State Law

Star Tribune Minnesota Poll

CNN: Sanctuary Cities Explained

California SB-54

California SB-54 Signing Document

National Public Radio News: California's New Sanctuary State Law

LA Times: What's In The Sanctuary Bill?

LA Times: What's Not In The Sanctuary Bill?

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.