GOP bill would penalize Wisconsin municipalities that don't enfo - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

GOP bill would penalize Wisconsin municipalities that don't enforce federal immigration laws

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Republican state lawmaker wants to make sure all local governments in the state enforce federal immigration laws or face a possible financial penalty.

That could have a major impact on Dane County and the City of Madison, where officials have gone out of their way to reassure the immigrant community they have nothing to fear from them, unless they are committing other crimes.

On November 16, just eight days after President Donald Trump's election, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said he would not allow his officers to be unduly pressured by federal authorities looking to identify and arrest illegal immigrants.

"We will not be coerced, co-opted, cajoled or threatened into assisting them with those sort of benign offenses, low-level issues," said Chief Koval.

Madison Police have always contacted immigration authorities about illegals arrested on felonies and some misdemeanor charges, which would be required under the bill being put forth by Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls).

But Rep. Brandtjen told 27 News that is the bare minimum that should be required of local governments.      

"Otherwise, it becomes a process of selective enforcement - we're only going to apply one set of laws to legal residents and another set of laws to illegal residents. And that's really not fair to either party," said Rep. Brandtjen.

Her legislation, AB 127, would also make it illegal for any unit of local government to prohibit employees from asking individuals receiving public services if they are in the state legally; from contacting federal authorities about the presence of illegal immigrants; and from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The bill further allows for any state resident to sue a municipality they feel is in violation of those provisions.

If a judge were to rule against a municipality in such a case, the bill also provides for larger municipalities to face a $5,000 state revenue reduction for every day of non-compliance. Smaller municipalities would face a $500 daily reduction.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin told 27 News in a statement he is confident about the city's policies regarding immigrants.

"The City of Madison is solidly within the law," wrote Mayor Soglin. "We stand with Wisconsin's agriculture industry, which shares our concerns about deportation. We are on the side of human rights, compassion, and Wisconsin's economy."

And the legislation looks unlikely to pass without some changes.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he would prefer a bill with a more limited focus.

"For me - especially being in Wisconsin - it would be for me seeing them break Wisconsin law," said Speaker Vos. "They steal a car, they commit a murder, they steal drugs."

AB 127 does not have a companion bill in the Senate at this point.

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