Hundreds of people turned out Thursday to try to stop a bill that would cut state funding for so-called sanctuary cities and signaled they would turn to the courts if the measure is signed into law.
In the face of that opposition, Sen. Steve Nass, R-La Grange, made a spirited case for the bill before the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform.
“The bill is directed specifically at illegal aliens that have committed a crime,” Nass told the committee.
“Contrary to claims of opponents, sanctuary cities do not make our communities safer. These politically correct policies actually increase the risk to public safety in order to make a political statement regarding federal immigration laws.”
Opponents of the bill argue it is unconstitutional and would make Wisconsin less safe.
The bill “will lead to a dramatic decrease in the willingness of crime victims to reach out to law enforcement, meaning violent offenders will continue their abusive behavior unimpeded,” Chase Tarrier, public policy coordinator for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, wrote in a memo to the committee.
Senate Bill 275 would require police to hold people charged with a crime in jail for up to an additional 48 hours if they are suspected of being in the country illegally. It would also bar local governments from having policies blocking the enforcement of laws regarding determining someone’s immigration status.
Local governments that didn’t go along could see their state aid cut by up to $5,000 per day.
The legislation comes a year and a half after GOP lawmakers stepped away from similar legislation amid a massive protest in the state Capitol—but also as President Donald Trump seeks to scale back legal and illegal immigration.
A federal judge temporarily blocked a similar Texas law in August.
Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, said the state shouldn’t adopt the bill in any case, but should at least wait to see how the Texas law fares on appeal.
“We wasted enough money on lawyers in this state. Let Texas pay for it and then we’ll learn from them,” Wirch said.
Nass countered the state should move forward, noting Wisconsin laws limiting the powers of unions survived numerous lawsuits.
“We’ll see if this gets litigated. That does not scare me at all,” Nass said.