Immigrant information sharing would be required

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Supporters say a bill passed by the House would help make things safer for everyone, while opponents believe it could result in profiling of certain citizens.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer), HF358 would prevent local units of government from prohibiting or restricting their employees from sharing immigration data with federal authorities.

“Certainly, one thing we can take away from the tragic events of the last 10 years, specifically Sept. 11, 2001, is that communication between the different branches of government is critically important to the security of our citizens, and lack of communication between jurisdictions can result in tragedy,” Barrett said.

Passed 77-52 by the House April 18, the bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) is the sponsor.

Barrett said the bill is not anti-immigrant. “This bill supports immigration that happens through the current legal process in our country that we’ve had in place for hundreds of years to support immigration to the United States.”

He hopes to help law enforcement do their jobs “without being hampered by city ordinances that conflict with our federal laws.”

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) said the bill has a number of problems, including it being an unfunded local mandate; it takes away local control; it subjects Minnesotans to arbitrary police stops; and it could open all sorts of legal action for people who say their rights to not be harassed have been violated.

“Opening up racial discrimination is not a far-fetched intended consequence of this kind of proposal,” he said.

Countered Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), “To pull people over because of their skin color, there’s nothing in here, no mandate or hint or suggestion that cops have to pull anybody over.”

Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) said the bill is not just about law enforcement personnel. “This bill says you can’t restrict any public employee from investigating anyone’s immigration status, street worker, municipal liquor store employee. … I thought we wanted our public employees to do the job we pay them to do, not spend their time on vigilante justice.”