A man arrested in Charlevoix this week on charges of attempted sex trafficking of a minor in Charlevoix was in the United States illegally.

Critics assert something far more serious might have occurred under lax immigration enforcement advocated by U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten, D-Grand Rapids.

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Scholten, representing Michigan’s Third District, previously worked as a staff attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. In that capacity, she advocated for sanctuary cities and supported efforts to thwart U.S. Immigration Enforcement and Customs Enforcement.

“‘We are calling on the county today to stop the voluntary practice of working with [ICE],” Scholten was quoted by MLive in 2019. “We’re not asking that the county stand in the way of ICE doing its job, simply that [the county] not stand up and offer our county resources to help ICE in this way,” she added.

Juan Carlos Gomez-Hernandez was in the U.S. on an expired visa when he was arrested for allegedly attempting to meet a woman he believed was 15 years old in a sting operation conducted by local law enforcement. Gomez-Hernandez had agreed to pay the undercover cop $150 for a sexual encounter.

The Midwesterner reached out to the office of U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who represents Michigan’s First District, which includes Charlevoix, but did not receive a response by press time.

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In 2019, Scholten pronounced her opposition to Michigan House Bills 4083 and 4090, which would prohibit communities in the state from passing laws banning cooperation with ICE or other authorities.

“Glad to support testimony today in Lansing opposing HBs 4083& 4090, terribly drafted bills that hamper law enforcement’s ability to do their job and create powerful incentives for racial profiling. Further analysis available on @Michimmigrant website,” Scholten tweeted at the time.

In a 2019 tweet, she also took aim at the bills.

“Aren’t Republicans supposed to be in favor of LESS Government? Why pass these redundant rules preventing localities from exercising their right to say – we won’t do ICE’s job for it,” she wrote. “We need our local resources to stay local, not prop up an already bloated federal agency.”

In a YouTube video, Scholten, who is running for reelection in 2024, also seemed to champion open borders.

“We need policies, immigration policies, that reflect this inherent freedom of movement. And we need to elect officials that are willing to commit to enacting policies that reflect this basic human right,” she said.

Scholten also applauded Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young’s 2019 denial of three immigrant detainer requests submitted by ICE for three men with criminal records. The requests would require Kent County to jail the men beyond their recommended sentences without a judicial warrant. ICE routinely makes such requests for criminals it intends to deport.

“Sheriff LaJoye-Young has taken a huge stand for public safety, due process, and the rule of law in our community,’ said Hillary Scholten, attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. ‘We continue to applaud her decision as a step toward making us all feel safer,’” Scholten told a Detroit Free Press reporter.