- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Legislation introduced Monday would withhold taxpayer money from Idaho cities and counties if they stopped enforcing federal immigration laws and adopted “sanctuary city” policies.

The proposal comes just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive action to crack down on immigrant-protecting sanctuary cities by cutting federal dollars. While several big cities, such as New York and San Francisco, have formal policies in place, Idaho has none.

“Opposition is healthy, opposition is American, but our security should not be the price of political protest,” said Republican Rep. Greg Chaney of Caldwell, sponsor of the bill. “There’s a way to oppose the administration’s initiatives and not sacrifice security.”

He said his measure was in the works before Trump signed the executive order last week.

There is no legal definition of sanctuary policies, but they involve local municipalities curtailing their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Under Chaney’s proposal, law enforcement officers would not be allowed to arrest or round up suspects solely for immigration violations. However, the measure says that if a person who is arrested cannot provide proof of immigration status 48 hours after being detained, law enforcement officials would be allowed to check and it would be noted in the court record.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in 2015 appointed Chaney, a second-term lawmaker, to the Idaho Commission of Hispanic Affairs, which offers recommendations to lawmakers and the governor on issues concerning the state’s Hispanic population. Chaney is not Hispanic.

“I am surprised to hear Chaney introduced this, he has always been a great supporter in the past,” said Democratic Rep. Sue Chew of Boise, who serves on the commission with Chaney. “I guess I’ll need to talk to him to learn why he thinks this is necessary.”

The proposal comes at a time when the country has been deeply divided over immigration policy. Proponents argue that police departments that enforce immigration laws help prevent criminals from being released back in their neighborhoods. Critics counter that such efforts increase the chances of racial profiling and hurt building community trust in police.

Limiting sanctuary policies is not a new trend for many states, but Trump’s latest executive orders have revived the movement. After three years of effort, GOP lawmakers in Texas are expected to pass a measure banning sanctuary cities this legislative session.

Similarly, statehouses in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have all introduced legislation this year seeking to ban cities or schools from breaking with federal immigration laws.

Those efforts have sparked counterprotests. An estimated 600 people flooded the Boise airport Sunday as part of the nationwide protest over Trump’s executive order that suspended immigration from some Muslim countries.

Many of those same advocates filled every seat in the state House Affairs Committee on Monday and spilled into overflow rooms eager to show their discontent with the proposal.

While no public testimony was heard, protesters said it was important to let lawmakers know that their constituents were watching.

The House panel introduced the bill with no discussion or debate. Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, cast the only nay vote. The proposal must now clear a full legislative hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Idaho is home to roughly 95,000 immigrants, according to the nonprofit American Immigration Council. Meanwhile, 13.3 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic or Asian.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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