Anti-Sanctuary Bills Filed in Kentucky and Oklahoma
By Tanner Bonovitch | FAIR Take | January 2020
State legislators in Kentucky and Oklahoma have recently introduced anti-sanctuary bills that would prohibit jurisdictions from employing dangerous policies that shield illegal aliens and endanger innocent lives.
In the Kentucky Senate, the Republican majority made a strong statement to include anti-sanctuary legislation as their first bill of the 2020 session. Introduced by Senator Danny Carroll (R-Paducah), with twelve cosponsors, Senate Bill (SB) 1 would:
- define and ban sanctuary policies as “invalid, void, and unenforceable”;
- allow any state constitutional officer to sue for an injunction to block sanctuary policies; and
- exempt school districts, district boards of education, and public charter schools
It appears the impetus behind Sen. Carroll’s push was a statement made by Mayor Linda Gorton stating that Lexington would only assist agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if ordered by a judge.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) also expressed his support for SB 1. He said the bill is needed to ensure that law enforcement has all the tools they need.
SB 1 has a good chance of passing the legislature with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. It is likely that Governor Andy Beshear (D-Kentucky) will veto the bill, falling back on his statement that Kentucky has no sanctuary cities. However, FAIR’s 2018 survey of sanctuary jurisdictions identified two local governments in Kentucky with sanctuary policies.
Even if Gov. Beshear does veto SB 1, it is likely to become law. Kentucky is one of six states that allows for a simple majority in each chamber to override a gubernatorial veto.
In Oklahoma, Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1459. According to Sen. Dahm, “[i]n the past, we had cities say they would willingly violate federal immigration laws by declaring their cities a sanctuary for those law-breaking foreigners … Senate Bill 1459 says no such sanctuary policy can be implemented in our state, and any government entity that violates these laws would be subject to loss of funds until they uphold the law.”
- defines and ban sanctuary policies by local governments or officials;
- provides that Oklahoma’s Attorney General will decide whether a local government or official has a sanctuary policy; and
- states, “any government entity, municipality, or political subdivision deemed ineligible for any moneys shall remain ineligible until the Attorney General certifies the government entity municipality or political subdivision has come into full compliance”
In 2018, FAIR identified the City of Tulsa as a sanctuary city based on its police department policy. Since FAIR’s report, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office has repeatedly made clear it will not honor immigration detainers thus becoming the second sanctuary known sanctuary jurisdiction in the state. It has been publicly condemned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for releasing an alleged illegal-alien rapist in October 2019. SB 1459 would ban these dangerous policies.
Sen. Dahm’s bill has a good chance of passage. Oklahoma has Republican majorities in both chambers as well as a Republican governor, Kevin Stitt.
Oklahoma’s legislative session is scheduled to start on February 2, and end on May 29.