Anti-Sanctuary Bills Advance in Kentucky and Oklahoma, Introduced in Georgia
By Shari Rendall | FAIR Take | February 2020
February has already seen anti-sanctuary legislation rapidly pass one chamber of each state legislature in Kentucky and Oklahoma, as well as be introduced in Georgia.
The Republican majority in the Kentucky State Senate continues to make banning dangerous sanctuary policies a top priority. Senate Bill (SB) 1 was sponsored by Senator Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) and it has 11 cosponsors.
In May 2018, FAIR identified Louisville-Jefferson County Metro and Scott County as sanctuary jurisdictions in Kentucky. Their sanctuary policies would be banned by SB 1. The legislation also allows any constitutional officer to sue for an injunction to block sanctuary policies.
The Senate Judiciary Committee considered SB 1 on January 30. During the hearing, the bill was amended and then passed by the Committee. The amendment made exceptions to the bill for domestic violence shelters, children’s advocacy centers, school districts, public defenders and public health departments.
During the Judiciary Committee hearing, Representative John Blanton (R-Salyersville), a former law enforcement officer, spoke in favor of the bill, saying, “this is a bill about law enforcement and protecting the cooperation between federal, state and local officials.” “[i]f we set the precedence not to allow that, what is next? Do we tell our law enforcement they can’t participate with the DEA or the FBI or the U.S. marshals’ service? Where does it end?”
On February 4, SB 1 passed the full Senate by a vote of 28-10. Two Republican senators opposed it and one Democrat voted for it.
The House referred to the bill to House Judiciary Committee, where a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
On February 3, Rep. John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando) introduced House Bill (HB) 3198 which requires law enforcement agencies to honor immigration detainers for people in their custody. The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 3198 on February 6. It was debated and passed by the House on February 10 by a vote of 78-21. One Democrat joined all the Republicans to vote for the bill.
According to Rep Pfeiffer, he introduced the bill because Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties would not honor detainers for illegal aliens in their jails. Oklahoma County has repeatedly released illegal aliens charged with serious crimes, including one in October 2019 charged with rape. This criminal alien was released with only 30 minutes notice to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), rather than the 48 hours requested in the detainer.
Dozens of open-borders groups signed on to a joint statement “calling the bill cruel and saying it will split families.” Rep. David Perryman (D-Chickasha) condemned the bill as “fear-mongering.” Rep. Pfeiffer responded, “[w]e’re not fear-mongering. We’re fixing problems … This is a simple bill that fixes a problem.”
The House-passed bill now joins a broader anti-sanctuary bill in the Senate, SB 1459, introduced by Sen. Nathan Dahm in February which has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.
Georgia’s anti-sanctuary enforcement mechanisms were gutted by the elimination of its much-criticized Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB) last year. To fill the void, on February 5, Rep. Philip Singleton (R-Sharpsburg) introduced House Bill (HB) 915, a comprehensive anti-sanctuary bill.
Rep. Singleton modeled his bill on the strong anti-sanctuary legislation passed by Texas and Florida. He said, “[r]adical efforts to protect criminal illegal immigrants, which burden our state and federal government, and put our citizens in danger, will not be unchecked in our great state.”
In brief, the bill:
- defines and bans sanctuary policies by local governments and state agencies;
- requires officers to honor detainers;
- requires city and county jails and state prisons to enter into cooperation agreements with ICE;
- makes “knowing” noncompliance with an immigration detainer by the primary person responsible for a jail or prison a misdemeanor;
- authorizes the Attorney General to sue to block sanctuary policies;
- authorizes the Attorney General to defend local governments or agencies sued for good-faith compliance with detainers;
- creates a duty for all public employees to report violations to the Attorney General, with whistleblower protections; and
- allows victims or their family members to sue sanctuary jurisdictions for monetary damages due to an injury or death caused by illegal alien crime.
HB 915 has not yet been referred to committee or set for hearing, but already has at least five cosponsors. There is no similar legislation filed in the Senate yet.