Some Republican state lawmakers say the Senate should schedule a vote on a controversial bill targeting so-called sanctuary cities.
The legislation is aimed at ending policies that prevent local law enforcement and other agencies from asking someone charged with a crime about their immigration status. It passed the Assembly last week, but has faced strong opposition from immigrant communities – including a massive protest at the Capitol last Thursday that drew about 20,000 people. Backers of the bill argue it’s needed to improve public safety, by preventing the accidental release of suspects who are in the country illegally.
The proposal faces an uncertain future in the Senate, after Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) indicated it does not appear to be a priority among Republicans in the chamber. The comment prompted some GOP lawmakers to push back Monday.
In a statement, Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) argued it would be a “terrible mistake” not to bring the bill up for a vote before the session ends. Nass said he has spoken with Fitzgerald and shared his “belief that it would pass the Senate if brought to the floor.”
The Whitewater Republican is a co-author of the bill.
Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) also said in the statement that the bill is an “important piece of legislation that protects Wisconsin’s public safety. Now, we must ensure our local units of government assist federal authorities when anyone is charged with a crime.”
Fitzgerald’s office responded with a statement Monday – “With nearly 200 bills currently available for scheduling in the Senate, it is the responsibility of bill authors to ensure that their proposals have sufficient support within the caucus for passage. AB 450 falls into that category along with every other piece of legislation.”
The Senate is expected to be back on the floor in mid-March for what will likely be the chamber’s last session day of the year. The Assembly wrapped up its work for the year last week though, making it unlikely any changes can be made to the bill.