Under current state and federal law, law enforcement agencies must already comply with federal immigration law. But a sweeping and extreme bill moving through the state legislature would force localities to participate with even voluntary federal immigration programs or risk the loss of state funding.
SB 155/HB 271, sponsored by Sen. Mark Green and Rep. Tilman Goins, would prohibit state and local governmental entities and officials from adopting or enacting sanctuary policies; authorize residents of this state and members of the general assembly to submit complaints to the attorney general and reporter; and provide that violations will subject applicable entities to ineligibility of state funds.
This bill would undermine local law enforcement’s autonomy in making common sense public safety decisions. If this bill passes, all state and local law enforcement would be prohibited from adopting any policies that limit their participation in even voluntary immigration enforcement programs. Decisions about whether or not to comply with voluntary requests regarding immigration enforcement should be left to local law enforcement agencies who know what will work best to promote public safety in their communities.
This legislation also undermines public safety by creating fear and distrust in immigrant communities. Inevitably a measure like this will decrease reliance and trust in local law enforcement, leading to under-reporting of crime by victims and witnesses. Eroding community-police relations makes the work of local law enforcement more difficult, compromising public safety for the entire community.
This bill could also subject local communities to significant costs. Local agencies do not possess adequate resources to enforce federal laws. The state should not be in the business of mandating how localities allocate their precious resources.
In addition, this measure would force local communities to bear liability for civil rights violations. This bill could force local law enforcement to detain people without probable cause by forbidding them from asking for a judicial warrant or demonstration of probable cause when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests a person be held for deportation. Should such detentions result in lawsuits for civil rights violations, counties would be forced to bear the risk and cost of such lawsuits alone.
TAKE ACTION: Urge members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and House State Government Committee not to force local law enforcement to comply with voluntary federal immigration programs.