On Friday, Kentucky became one of nearly two dozen states to have proposed legislation that would outlaw "sanctuary" policies.
Governor Matt Bevin was joined by state lawmakers, members of the Lexington Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and Homeland Security officials in Lexington to call for passage, as soon as possible, of legislation to ensure local law enforcement can effectively cooperate with federal agencies in combatting crime.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll and Rep. John Blanton, prohibits local governments from enacting "sanctuary" policies that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"Irresponsible and legally questionable 'sanctuary' policies handcuff our law enforcement personnel and pose a significant risk to public safety," said Gov. Bevin. "Communication and collaboration among federal, state and local police is essential. We must never allow petty politics to jeopardize the safety of our law enforcement personnel or the tools they need to serve and protect our communities."
At least 10 other states -- Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- have already enacted legislation prohibiting "sanctuary" policies. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), an additional 21 states, including Kentucky, have proposed legislation to outlaw "sanctuary" policies.
Sen. Carroll, a former Paducah assistant police chief, said cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement has never been more important than it is today. He said permitting any unit of local government to mandate limited, or no, cooperation with federal immigration officials would hinder the effectiveness of local law enforcement and put our citizens at risk.
"This legislation is not intended as a statement on immigration policy, but rather a statement of support for law enforcement officers who have sworn to protect their communities," he said.
Rep. Blanton, a former Kentucky State Police (KSP) major, added "sanctuary" policies allow politicians to force their political agenda upon the law enforcement community.
"These types of policies are in direct violation to the oath that police officers take to protect and serve their communities, and legislation is necessary to ensure that law enforcement can do their job without the undue influence of politics," he said,
The proposed legislation will clarify state law regarding "sanctuary" policies by providing a precise definition of what exactly a "sanctuary" policy is, prohibit "sanctuary" policies in Kentucky and encourage federal-state-local law enforcement collaboration, and grant the Commonwealth the authority to enforce these provisions.
Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.