Bill to ban sanctuary cities targets Madison policies that build trust with immigrant community

A bill that would ban sanctuary cities in Wisconsin had a public hearing at the Capitol Tuesday.

If passed, local law enforcement agencies across the state would be forced to enforce federal immigration laws and cooperate with Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

Under the bill, if a city is found to have an ordinance, resolution or policy that prohibits the enforcement of federal immigration laws, it would be fined and held liable for damages to a person or property caused by an undocumented immigrant.

“As we’ve seen in San Francisco, Maryland, Madison, Milwaukee and elsewhere, many of these sanctuary cities’ policies are so extreme, they’re actually helping to shield dangerous convicted felons and putting law-abiding citizens in harm’s way,” said state Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, the author of the bill.

Nass specifically spoke about the city of Madison being uncooperative with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A public hearing just started for a bill that would ban sanctuary cities. It would prohibit local law enforcement from not cooperating with @ICEgov. In the past @MayorOfMadison, @madisonpolice & @DaneSheriff have been vocal about standing with immigrants. #news3now

— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) December 17, 2019

“Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has gone from refusing to follow federal law to actively impeding federal immigration officials. In June 2019 she proclaimed that she will stand with the illegal immigrant community and keep the community informed if local law enforcement is given advance information by ICE,” said Nass.

While Nass thinks Madison’s policies put more citizens in danger, acting Madison police Chief Vic Wahl said the policies limiting officers from engaging in immigration enforcement benefit public safety.

Wahl said the department is working hard to strengthen its relationship with the immigrant community because it wants everyone to be willing partners by reporting crimes and being witnesses.

Wahl said the bill would “have a chilling impact on our ability to develop those relationships, to build trust, and to work with all of our community members.”

Wahl opposes the bill, along with activists in the organization Voces de la Frontera who are calling it an attack on immigrants.

“An individual with prominent Hispanic features had acid thrown in his face and was accused of being an illegal. These are the types of measures that support that kind of thinking,” said Darryl Moren, president of Forward Latinos, referring to a hate crime in Milwaukee.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney also opposes the bill, calling it “another unfunded mandate on counties forcing federal responsibilities onto the shoulders of already over stressed municipalities.”

In a statement to News 3 Now, Mahoney said the bill “has the intent to eliminate levels of trust law enforcement has worked hard to earn in immigrant communities” and if passed, “it would serve to drive immigrant victims of crime further into the shadows empowering predators to prey on these vulnerable individuals and in the end making all our communities, immigrant and citizen alike less safe.”

Supporters of the bill believe it would protect American citizens from violent criminals.

“When aliens walk out the front of the jail that could have been handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal proceedings, they have the opportunity to commit additional crimes,” said Nass.

“I’ve talked to people in those neighborhoods that have locked themselves in their homes because of these individuals that are criminals, thugs that are on the street, that cause the problems in these neighborhoods.” said state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine. “People want to get these people out of their neighborhoods.”

Those who oppose the bill believe if it gets to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk, he will not sign it.

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