Alabama state senator files bill that would criminalize sanctuary city policies

Updated: Mar. 9, 2020 at 7:36 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WAFF) - Everyday, political and law enforcement leaders make tough calls for their communities.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he filed Senate Bill 108 to make sure those decisions don’t hurt the federal government’s immigration enforcement.

The bill criminalizes policies or decisions which would undermine ICE or other immigration law enforcement.

It does the following:

  • Asserts Alabama state policy as “to discharge illegal immigration by complying with all federal immigration laws and assisting and fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
  • Strengthens the punishment of policies that prevent the sharing immigrant status information with immigration law enforcement.
  • Criminalizes noncompliance of city and county employees with federal immigration law enforcement.
  • Creates a pathway for U.S. citizens or legal aliens to petition local governments over policies perceived to be in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373 or 8 U.S.C. § 1644
  • Criminalizes policies which prohibit a sheriff, a chief of police, or the head of any law enforcement agency from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement.

As currently written, violations of the bill would be a Class C Felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

Orr said he plans to downgrade the penalty to a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries up six months in jail.

Appeals could be filed to the local circuit court.

Orr said he doesn’t want to make immigration local law enforcement’s primary concern, but he does want to improve cooperation between local and federal agents.

“That’s not in their purview, but when they have someone that they arrest for a felony or whatever, and they have no documentation and they understand ICE may have a hold on this person, then ICE needs to be contacted," he said.

Rosa Toussaint Ortiz is a Huntsville community pastor and said the bill would put more pressure on city taxpayers. She said the deportation of parents could put more children born in America on welfare.

“Now you the taxpayer and me, we’re going to be responsible for these children when they had a father that was doing the construction that he was putting floors, that he was working,” she said.

Activist group Adelante spokesperson Resha Swanson said the bill would be an overreach of power.

“It’s not municipalities jobs to do the work of the federal government. ICE and DHS have these billion dollar budgets to operate and do the work they need to do,” she said.

There are an estimated 55,000 undocumented immigrants in Alabama.

The bill is currently in the Alabama Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee.

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