- Associated Press - Thursday, February 23, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Lawmakers in the Vermont Senate unanimously approved a measure Thursday that positions the state as a bulwark against some of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

All 30 of Vermont’s senators approved the bill by voice vote. It’s expected to get final approval Friday. It will then move on to the House.

The measure would place Vermont’s governor squarely between Vermont police forces and federal agents looking to deputize those police to identify and remove immigrants.

It also would make it illegal for Vermont police to arbitrarily collect personal information for fear that it could be used in a federal registry and aid anti-immigrant efforts.

Some senators voluntarily spoke in support, saying the measure is a way to establish divisions of power between the states and the federal government.



“This is not a shot across the bow of the Trump administration,” said Republican Sen. Joe Benning, of Caledonia County.

Instead, it’s “a point-blank broadside aimed at establishing the constitutional parameters by which we live as a republic,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Dick Sears, of Bennington, the lead sponsor of the measure, said language in the bill would prevent Vermont from being labeled a sanctuary jurisdiction under the definition Trump’s administration is using.

A Trump administration order allows the attorney general and secretary of homeland security to label a state or city a “sanctuary jurisdiction” and withhold grant money.

Still, Vermont could lose out if the Trump administration decided to change that, Sears said.

“If the federal government decides to expand their definition of a sanctuary city they could take away some of our federal grant money,” he said on the Senate floor.

Sears has been following new guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security that interpret one of Trump’s executive orders on immigration. The department will look to deputize state and local police when removing and gathering information about immigrants, according to the rules released this week.

Sears said news of the rules gives the bill new relevance. Massachusetts, Illinois and California are all considering similar measures, he said.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott doubled down on his support of the measure at a news conference Wednesday. He said his office has told the White House about the measure.

“This is about protecting our constitution,” Scott said when asked what he would say to those who support Trump’s policies on immigration.

“We can’t pick and choose what part of the constitution we protect, we need to protect all of it,” he said.

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