FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Senate’s top priority in 2020 will be a ban on sanctuary cities. Local governments across the country have sheltered immigrants at risk of deportation by the federal government.
The American Immigration Council estimates 50,000 undocumented immigrants live in Kentucky. Senate Bill 1, sponsored by state Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, would prohibit any state or local office from enacting a sanctuary city policy. Carroll said he has been working on the bill for a while.
“The bill was originally presented to me by (former) Gov. Bevin’s office,” Carroll said. “We took a deep look at the bill and made the decision that it was a good thing for Kentucky to support law enforcement and to ensure cooperation between federal, state and local agencies in the area of immigration.”
The bill requires government employees to comply with federal immigration laws, which Carroll said is supposed to happen anyways.
“There has always been an understanding between law enforcement agencies, whether it be state, federal or local, that you cooperate; That you work you work together to protect our citizenry,” Carroll said. “As far as it getting into public agencies, that has more to do with being able to access records and things like that. Really, the bill does nothing more than protect the status quo across the state and it keeps the politics out of law enforcement.”
The ACLU of Kentucky opposes the bill. Advocacy Director Kate Miller said it could lead to state employees enforcing immigration laws they aren’t ready to enforce.
“When we’re not being very intentional about who is responsible for immigration enforcement, we’re putting a lot of people’s lives at risk,” Miller said. “It could result in detention and deportation of children.”
Senate Republican leaders have already thrown their support behind the bill, saying it will help stop illegal drugs from coming into the country and reduce the burden on public services. House Speaker David Osborne said he hasn’t gotten the chance to read the bill.
“It is an issue that has never generated a tremendous amount of discussion in our chamber, but certainly, I’m sure (Senate Republicans) filing it as a priority bill will generate that discussion, absolutely,” Osborne said.
A similar bill, House Bill 51, has been filed in the House as well.