- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Republicans passed a pair of bills Tuesday that would outlaw so-called sanctuary cities and prohibit local governments from issuing identification cards despite Democrats’ complaints that both measures target immigrants.

The first bill would block local governments from prohibiting police from inquiring about immigration status of anyone charged with a crime and from working with federal immigration authorities. The Assembly passed the bill 62-35, sending the measure on to the Senate. It was unclear when that chamber might vote on the bill.

The measure’s author, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, introduced the legislation following a San Francisco incident in which a woman was fatally shot by a Mexican immigrant in the country illegally. The San Francisco County sheriff’s office had released the suspect earlier that year, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him. Spiros has said there haven’t been similar issues in Wisconsin, but he wants to be proactive.

Spiros points to Racine, Madison and Milwaukee County as “sanctuary cities” in Wisconsin, but officials from those cities dispute that characterization. They say they are welcoming to immigrants but comply completely with federal law.

Madison passed a resolution in 2010 calling on the Dane County sheriff to stop reporting immigration status to federal authorities, though it had no legal effect. A 2012 Milwaukee County Board resolution similarly called on the sheriff not to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immigration detention requests unless a person has been convicted of serious crimes, is a gang member or is a suspected terrorist. Neither of those resolutions was legally binding.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarippa, D-Milwaukee, warned Republicans that the bill would alienate the state’s growing Hispanic population and could cost them votes.

“It is striking fear in immigrant families across this great state,” Zamarippa said. “We are the future of this great state. You and your colleagues are making a huge mistake.”

The Senate, meanwhile, passed the local ID bill 19-13 Tuesday. The Assembly followed suit hours later, passing it 62-35. That proposal now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

The legislation would ban towns and counties from issuing IDs or spending money on them. It would also specify that IDs issued by cities or villages couldn’t be used to vote or obtain public benefits, like food stamps.

The bill comes as Milwaukee city and county officials are working to issue local photo IDs to those who have difficulty obtaining other government-issued IDs. The IDs would be used for everyday tasks, like opening a bank account or obtaining a prescription.

Bill sponsor Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, has said the measure’s not about punishing immigrants; it’s about insuring that there isn’t confusion or fraud.

“We issue a free, Wisconsin state identification card that has specific parameters to identify who that person is, where they live, what their address is,” Wanggaard said. “This is about identification and credibility for identification.”

Democrats have pointed to what they call heart-wrenching testimony from immigrants about how important the ID is for everyday life, noting that the ID couldn’t be used for voting anyway.

“It’s one of the mean-spirited bills that has no business being before us,” said Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee.

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