BOISE — A new version of a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Idaho was introduced Monday morning, this time minus language requiring police to check arrestees’ immigration status.
Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, said he has conferred with immigrant, Hispanic and agricultural organizations about their concerns since introducing the last bill. While they’re not all on board with the new version, he said the United Dairymen of Idaho and the Milk Producers of Idaho have said they would at least remain neutral rather than opposing it as they did the last one.
“The purpose of the bill is to keep local and counties from protesting in a way that would be counterproductive to a solution as a whole at the national level,” Chaney told the House State Affairs Committee.
Idaho doesn’t have any “sanctuary cities” now — every jurisdiction in the state cooperates with federal immigration authorities and honors immigration “detainers,” or requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold someone. However, local police are also not actively involved in immigration enforcement.
The new version of Chaney’s bill would take half of all sales tax money away from a city or county that seeks to block enforcement of federal immigration laws. The last version would have taken most of it.
“It’s a proactive prohibition against the sorts of policies we see throughout Oregon, in areas like San Francisco and others, that intentionally seek to obstruct any action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Chaney said.
The new version also removes a section requiring local authorities to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest if in doubt, and to notify ICE always if someone isn’t here legally.
“I’m not aware of any sheriff’s department in the state that doesn’t already follow those protocols, so getting lost in the weeds of what check marks they need to check didn’t seem prudent,” Chaney said.
Like the last version, the latest one has language saying it is not the bill’s intent to involve Idaho authorities in actively enforcing immigration law.
Chaney’s bill comes at a time when immigration policy is one of the most watched and controversial issues of the country. President Donald Trump was elected promising to take a hard line on immigration, and some of the immigration executive orders he has signed suggested deputizing local authorities to enforce immigration laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho will likely still oppose the latest version of the bill, said the group’s Public Policy Strategist Kathy Griesmyer. The ACLU, she said, views some of the immigration actions the Trump administration has been taking or considering as unconstitutional, and this bill would require cities and counties to comply with actions that may be illegal and potentially open them up to liability as a result. If a city or county weighs the risk and decides not to cooperate, she said, they should be able to.
The committee room filled up before the meeting even started, mostly with people opposed to the bill, and some people had to listen in an “overflow room” down the hall.
The bill was introduced with the two Democrats on the committee opposed and all the Republicans in favor. Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, asked Chaney a series of pointed questions, many focused on why the bill is necessary given that authorities in Idaho follow the law now. She made a motion not to introduce the bill that failed, with only her and Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, voting for it.