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Republicans pass bills blocking sanctuary cities

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans passed a bill Tuesday that would outlaw so-called sanctuary cities despite Democrats’ complaints that the measure targets immigrants.

The bill would block local governments from prohibiting police from inquiring about immigration status of anyone charged with a crime and from working with federal immigration authorities. The Assembly passed the bill 62-35, sending the measure on to the Senate. It was unclear when that chamber might vote on the bill.

The measure’s author, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, introduced the legislation following a San Francisco incident in which a woman was fatally shot by a Mexican immigrant in the country illegally. The San Francisco County sheriff’s office had released the suspect earlier that year, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him. Spiros has said there haven’t been similar issues in Wisconsin, but he wants to be proactive.

Spiros points to Racine, Madison and Milwaukee County as “sanctuary cities” in Wisconsin, but officials from those cities dispute that characterization. They say they are welcoming to immigrants but comply completely with federal law.

Madison passed a resolution in 2010 calling on the Dane County sheriff to stop reporting immigration status to federal authorities, though it had no legal effect. A 2012 Milwaukee County Board resolution similarly called on the sheriff not to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immigration detention requests unless a person has been convicted of serious crimes, is a gang member or is a suspected terrorist. Neither of those resolutions was legally binding.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarippa, D-Milwaukee, warned Republicans that the bill would alienate the state’s growing Hispanic population and could cost them votes.

“It is striking fear in immigrant families across this great state,” Zamarippa said. “We are the future of this great state. You and your colleagues are making a huge mistake.”

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