Kentucky Republicans act to prevent establishment of sanctuary cities

On the first day of the Kentucky General Assembly's 2020 session, Senate Republicans identified a bill targeting illegal immigration as the chamber's top legislative priority.

Senate Bill 1 prohibits public officials and law enforcement agencies from enacting or enforcing any policy establishing a sanctuary for illegal aliens in Kentucky. This sentiment is taken a step further by requiring almost all state public employees to use their "best efforts" to support the enforcement of federal immigration law; only the public education system would be exempt.

Still, law enforcement agencies would be permitted to adopt policies limiting inquiries regarding the immigration status of a victim of or witness to a crime, to cases where the inquiry is pertinent to the investigation. This would help encourage victims and witnesses to report crimes in cases where the victim or witness is in the country illegally.

In the 38-member Kentucky Senate, the legislation has 12 sponsors: Danny Carroll, John Schickel, Ralph Alvarado, C.B. Embry Jr., Rick Girdler, Paul Hornback, Robby Mills, Damon Thayer (the Majority Floor Leader), Stephen West, Phillip Wheeler, Mike Wilson (the Majority Whip), and Max Wise.

All of those Senators belong to the Republican Party — 28 of the 38 members of the Kentucky Senate are Republicans.

The measure has been endorsed by Daniel Cameron, the state's new attorney general. Cameron, a Republican elected last year, said sanctuary policies can “discourage collaboration" with federal immigration authorities, hindering law enforcement investigations. That creates “an obvious vulnerability that can be exploited by those who wish to break the law."

Currently there are no sanctuary cities in Kentucky

Currently there are no sanctuary cities or safe havens for illegal aliens in Kentucky. The intention of the bill is to prevent that from happening in the future. Says State Senator Danny Carroll: This bill protects the status quo as it related to the activities of immigration.

A couple of years ago, a city ordinance caused Louisville to become one of roughly two-dozen cities targeted by the federal government during a crackdown on sanctuary cities. In April 2018, officials with the Department of Justice found the city ordinance does not make Louisville a sanctuary city.

Kentucky anti-sanctuary city legislation has advanced to the state House of Representatives

Update, January 30: In what was described by the Associated Press as an emotional hearing, Senate Bill 1 cleared the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee and advanced to the Rules Committee, after a hearing that lasted nearly two-hours. The proposal is expected to receive approval from the full Senate, perhaps within a week. It would then go to the House of Representatives for approval by that chamber.

Opponents fear the legislation would result in racial profiling, as if illegal immigration is somehow associated with ethnic affiliation. The same bigoted people probably assume that every NBA player they hear about is black.

Update, February 4: Kentucky Senate Bill 1, AN ACT relating to federal immigration cooperation was passed by the Republican-dominated Senate in a 28-10 vote. The measure now goes to the Kentucky House of Representatives, where the GOP holds 61 seats and the Democrats have only 37.