Republican bill seeks to ban immigration ‘sanctuary cities’


Minnesota House Republicans introduced a bill Monday that would prevent cities, counties and other local governments from making laws related to immigration enforcement. St. Paul, Minneapolis and Worthington have ordinances on the books that direct city employees to check the immigration status of their residents only in certain instances and instead leave immigration enforcement to federal officials. These “sanctuary cities” are the target of HF348, which would invalidate those local ordinances.

The bill, introduced by Republican Reps. Bob Barrett of Shafer, Mike Benson of Rochester, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, also contains language that would prohibit local governments from providing immigration data to the Department of Homeland Security.

St. Paul has chosen to direct its public safety resources away from immigration enforcement, although its ordinances say it will enforce those laws where appropriate.

“The city works cooperatively with homeland security, as it does with all state and federal agencies, but the city does not operate its programs for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws,” the ordinance reads. “Homeland security has the legal authority to enforce immigration laws in the United States, in Minnesota and in the city.”

The ordinance continues, “It is the policy of the city to respect the role of homeland security by avoiding pro-active enforcement of civil immigration laws. This chapter is not intended to limit the proper enforcement of generally applicable laws. It is the policy of the city that all residents are equally entitled to protection and that all residents should be able to access city services to which they are entitled, without regard to their immigration status under federal law.”

The text of the GOP bill says, “Notwithstanding any other state or local law, no political subdivision, whether acting through its governing body or by an initiative, referendum, or any other process, shall enact any ordinance, regulation, or policy that limits or prohibits a criminal justice agency, peace officer, or official or employee of the political subdivision from communicating or cooperating with federal officials with regard to (1) information concerning the immigration status of any person within Minnesota or (2) the enforcement of federal immigration laws and regulations.”

Drazkowski is also the author of another immigration-related bill this session, one which would limit government services only to those who speak English.