More than 100 people signed up to testify on a bill that would prevent sanctuary cities for immigrants living in the country illegally.
The bill would stop local governments from telling law enforcement they can’t inquire about immigration status or work with federal immigration authorities. Communities that do enact such policies or resolutions could be challenged in court and could lose $500 to $5,000 of state aid each day of noncompliance.
The bill’s author, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, said he proposed the law after hearing stories of a woman being shot by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco last year.
“AB450 is common sense legislation that protects the citizen of Wisconsin, all of us, by calling for cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies,” Spiros said at the hearing. “As a state, we should be preemptive and make sure what happened in San Francisco could not happen here.”
Opponents say the bill is anti-immigrant and could hurt law enforcement’s relationship with immigrant communities.
“If this is in process, I will not be able to call the police for fear they take me away from my family,” said Arturo Teapila, an immigrant from Mexico living in Madison.
Spiros said he believes Madison, Milwaukee County and Racine are sanctuary cities. Officials from Madison and Milwaukee testified that they were not and worked with immigration authorities, when necessary.
“I hope that you will understand that it doesn’t matter what the letter of this law says. What you are sending is a message of fear, and we will see people not report crime, not report only domestic violence but any crime going on in your backyard and your communities,” Madison alderwoman Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said.
The bill will still need a vote in committee before moving forward.