By Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2015

MADISION, Wis. (AP) - Republican legislators in Wisconsin say they will continue pursuing a bill penalizing communities that block law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status or cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The bill seeks to prevent so-called “sanctuary cities” in which policies prevent them from helping federal authorities deport immigrants living in the country illegally, the Wisconsin State Journal ( ) reported. Under the bill, communities could be challenged in court and could face the loss of shared revenue of $500 to $5,000 each day they aren’t in compliance.

Critics say the bill conveys the wrong message to immigrant communities and could undercut efforts by local law enforcement to investigate crimes and build relationships. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Milwaukee-based immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, said the bill could leave municipalities open to lawsuits if citizens don’t think enough is being done locally to police federal immigration policy.

“The job of immigration is an extremely complex role and should be left to the federal government,” Neumann-Ortiz said.

Bill author Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, said the bill doesn’t require communities to enforce federal immigration law.

“What people are saying this bill does, it doesn’t do,” Spiros said. “It’s not there to get rid of illegal aliens. It’s really those who commit a crime.”

It’s not clear whether any Wisconsin cities would be affected by the legislation. The bill has a line that says it wouldn’t apply to municipalities with existing policies or previously adopted resolutions.

Madison passed a resolution in 2010 calling on the county sheriff to stop reporting immigration status to federal authorities, though the resolution had no legal effect.

The state legislation was scheduled for a public hearing of the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs earlier this month. Spiros said he asked it be removed from the agenda so the committee could book a larger room.

The committee plans to hold a public hearing on the bill Jan. 20, according to a spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg.

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