As briefly described in a previous article, sanctuary cities are cities which prohibit authorities, both local and federal, from inquiring into an individual’s immigration status in the country. These cities have been under attack recently and penalized by the federal government due to accusations of protecting accused criminals from scrutiny andallowing repeated crimes, and states have taken it upon themselves to shut down these cities in what they consider a move to protect the American people from dangerous illegal immigrants and possible terrorists.
The most recent attempt to tackle this issue has come from both Wisconsin and Maine simultaneously, as the two states take different approaches in order to either outright ban these sanctuary cities or else discourage the practice in its municipalities.
Wisconsin attempted to introduce bill AB 450, which would outright prohibit sanctuary cities and encourage police to investigate the immigration status of arrested individuals and refer them to federal immigration authorities.
Although the bill was approved by the state Assembly, it was taken off of the Senate’s docket, partly due to the protest in Madison on Feb. 18 organized by Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit focusing on Latino immigration issues.
In Maine, a bill was on its way to denying municipalities state funding for education and General Assistance if they had formally written sanctuary city ordinances or simply informal practices. Towns would have likewise been ineligible for state funding if they did not share information with federal immigration officials.
Although the bill was immediately rejected by Maine’s House Democrats, Gov. Paul LePage has made it clear that there exists a sanctuary city problem in Maine and that he strives to correct the problem, as shown by his rescission of former Democratic governor John Baldacci’s 2004 executive order prohibiting state officials from asking about a person’s immigration status.