Immigration enforcement is a controversial issue, and on Friday it was in the hands of lawmakers at the state legislature. Lawmakers are considering a bill that will clarify the role of local police in immigration enforcement efforts.
The issues of whether we are or are not a sanctuary state or county or whether or not we should cooperate with federal authorities on immigration enforcement have come up several times over the past few sessions; often in dueling bills.
Assembly Bill 281 is one that is a more middle-of-the-road policy-wise, but it’s still drawing plenty of opposition and support on both sides.
The bill would prohibit state and local police in the field from detaining a person based on suspected immigration status. However, it allows police to continue participating in a federal program that uses immigration representatives or trained officers to check the immigration status of people who are already in custody. That’s known as the 287-G program.
A Metro Police lobbyist says the department supports the bill because it reflects how they operate now. Metro detained about 67,000 people in the Clark County Detention Center last year.
Ten percent were subject to questioning by a 287-G officer, and as a result, about 1,000 people were handed over to immigration officials. That’s about 1.5 percent of the total number of people who were booked into CCDC last year.
While Metro is supportive, the community is split over the issue.
“We think that this bill codifies what the law already requires law enforcement to do and for these reasons, we support the bill,” said Holly Welborn, ACLU.
“I am opposed to any action that conveys or allows illegal immigrants from any country to be allowed the rights of U.S. citizens,” said Barry Penzel, opposes the bill.
The bill will be up for a vote in front of the Assembly Judiciary Committee in the near future, and if it passes, it will go to the full Assembly for a vote.