A proposed bill by a local lawmaker would ban sanctuary cities in Idaho, and if those cities don’t comply, they will lose taxpayer money.
Republican Rep. Greg Chaney of Caldwell introduced the bill Monday in the House State Affairs Committee.
"Whether it's Idaho or anywhere else, a sanctuary city becomes a magnet where those who are escaping prosecution might flock to,” Chaney said. “I don’t believe that’s the case anywhere in Idaho now. I just want to keep it that way."
Chaney said this bill isn’t meant to change anything. Currently, there are no sanctuary cities in Idaho. Chaney said this bill is meant to discourage counties and cities from become sanctuary cities. If they do, those cities and counties would lose state sales tax distribution funds.
Under the proposal, local law enforcement would be prohibited from arresting someone on immigration status alone, but it would also require law enforcement to check for and comply with immigration holds when arresting someone on a misdemeanor or felony.
"This is not an anti-immigrant bill," Chaney said. "This is not an attempt to get local law enforcement to enforce federal law. It’s merely an attempt to make sure local law enforcement is complying with federal law."
Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan is the only member of the House State Affairs Committee who voted against the bill.
"I'm pushing every city to support themselves and do what is necessary to protect their people," she said.
Jordan said she also thinks this bill will damage the state’s economy.
“I think this will have a great impact ultimately on the ag community, especially for the businesses in this state,” she said. “We have to be weary of the potential impacts because of the future employment of this state and current employment which are large population immigrants."
House Minority Leader Rep. Mat Erpelding released the following statement on the bill:
"It appears that this bill targets and profiles specific members of our communities and, if passed, will do irreparable harm to our economy. Agriculture is the backbone of many rural Idaho communities and this bill will cause local governments to target Latinos unfairly. We must focus on uniting all of our communities, not dividing them.
Idaho is recognized as one of the safest states in the nation and our local law enforcement does a superb job. This bill is a solution in search of a problem and will further marginalize those members who work hard to support their families."
Chaney said this is not meant to attack immigrants.
"I recognize that immigrants are an important part of our community and important part of our culture here in Idaho and I don't want that to change at all,” he said. “The only thing that this does is make sure that counties and cities don't engage in policies that help attract those who are trying otherwise escape immigration because they have broken the law.”