Should local cops be at the center of enforcing immigration laws? That question is once again surfacing in Minnesota.
House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, brought it up during a debate on the tax bill when he tried to amend it to prevent cities, such as St. Paul and Minneapolis, from receiving local government aid as long as long as they refuse to have police officers ask about immigration status. The amendment was part of Gov. Pawlenty’s plan, announced in January, to crack down on illegal immigration. Sen. Norm Coleman has said he’ll push legislation in Congress to accomplish the same thing.
In 2006, the then-Republican-controlled Minnesota House approved a bill stripping the sanctuary city ordinances, 94-to-37, but it died in the DFL-control Senate. Owing to the changing politics in the House, Monday night’s vote on Seifert’s amendment was closer, with it failing 67-to-66.
So what’s the problem here? Some officials, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, say if the local cops become immigration agents, then immigrants who are here illegally will be less likely to report crime or work with police.
Ground zero for the debate at the moment is in Roswell, New Mexico where a high school student is being sent back to Mexico after being ticketed for blocking a fire lane.
According to the Los Angeles. Times, the schools suffered a sudden drop in attendance as students whose parents were in the country illegally kept them home. But a 1982 Supreme Court ruling said illegal immigrants have a right to attend school, and educators could not ask students if they were here illegally. The traffic cop who was hired by the district, has been sent back to the city.
California was well on its way to testing the ruling, when voters approved Proposition 187, which denied public services — social services, health care, and public education primarily — to illegal immigrants. One judge issued a temporary restraining order. Then incoming Gov. Gray Davis killed the measure by dropping the appeals process.
In Virginia, a local sheriff signed onto a program that allows his deputies to check immigration status and detain suspects on immigration charges, mostly because, he said, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. officials were too slow to respond.
Not all police officials buy the idea, however. In Milwaukee, for example, police last year adopted a policy more in line with that of St. Paul and Minneapolis.