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Idaho Democrats Blast Bill Designed to Prevent 'Sanctuary Cities'

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The debate over policies admitting refugees and immigrants in the U.S. has sparked numerous protests in Idaho, including demonstrations at the Statehouse such as this one in 2015. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • The debate over policies admitting refugees and immigrants in the U.S. has sparked numerous protests in Idaho, including demonstrations at the Statehouse such as this one in 2015.
With proposed hard-line changes to U.S. policy toward refugees and immigrants dominating the national discussion, a bill surfaced Monday morning at the Idaho Statehouse that is poised to fan the flames of the debate.

"Opposition is American, but our security should not pay the price of political protest," said Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell), who stood before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee to propose the measure, which would withhold state funds from any city or county government that declares itself to be a "sanctuary" for refugees.

Chaney explained to lawmakers that his bill would not only withhold tax dollars from sanctuary cities, but allow law enforcement to alert the feds of any resident who could not provide documentation of their immigration status within 48 hours of detainment. The bill, however, would not allow local law enforcement to round up undocumented residents solely for possible immigration violations.

The Statehouse hearing room was packed with onlookers but Chaney's proposal didn't inspire any discussion among committee members, who voted to move the bill to a full public hearing. The only dissenting vote on turning the proposal into a bill was Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer), who is one of only two Democrats on the panel.

Shortly after the bill was introduced, House Minority Leader Rep. Mat Erpelding issued the following statement:
"It appears that this bill targets and profiles specific members of our communities and, if passed, will do irreparable harm to our economy. Agriculture is the backbone of many rural Idaho communities and this bill will cause local governments to target Latino's unfairly. We must focus on uniting all of our communities, not dividing them.
Idaho is recognized as one of the safest states in the nation and our local law enforcement does a superb job. This bill is a solution in search of a problem and will further marginalize those members who work hard to support their families."



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