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State representative proposes Arizona-style immigration bill (UPDATE)

By: Associated Press//May 24, 2011

State representative proposes Arizona-style immigration bill (UPDATE)

By: Associated Press//May 24, 2011

Jose Gonzalez of El Paso, Texas, protests House Bill 12 outside the Capitol on Monday in Austin. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Jose Gonzalez of El Paso, Texas, protests House Bill 12 outside the Capitol on Monday in Austin. Wis. state Rep. Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford is introducing similar legislation here. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A bill mirroring some of the tough enforcement measures of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill was introduced Tuesday by a state Republican legislator in Wisconsin.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford would force local law enforcement to ask those stopped for civil or criminal violations for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status. If the person fails to provide any such identification, they can be detained for up to 48 hours until they provide proof that they are in the country legally. During that time, local law enforcement can only verify lawful presence with the authorization of federal officials.

If they still can’t prove their legal status, law enforcement must turn the individual over to federal immigration or border patrol agencies.

It also would fine municipalities and counties $500 a day if they refuse to comply with the law. Pridemore said this would attempt to discourage any local officials from creating “sanctuary cities” for those in the country unlawfully.

It was unclear whether the full Legislature would take up the bill.

The bill is a stripped down version of an Arizona law that takes tougher enforcement measures to combat illegal immigration. While the Arizona law also provided sanctions on employers of undocumented workers, Pridemore’s bill has a far more limited scope with milder law enforcement measures.

Pridemore said the bill was written in solidarity with Arizona and that he wants to make sure to dissuade criminals that fled that state in the wake of tougher enforcement from coming to Wisconsin.

“This is an action that should have begun long ago when the federal government and the current administration stopped efforts to secure our borders,” Pridemore said in a statement. “Now that the illegal drug trade and human trafficking have put the lives and property of those along our borders in peril, we must do all we can to dissuade the criminal element from looking at Wisconsin as a safe haven.”

More than half of the states in the union have taken up measures similar to Arizona, but most have failed to muster enough support for passage. Only Utah and Georgia have passed immigration bills similar to the Arizona law.

Wisconsin’s version doesn’t appear to be an urgent issue for state GOP lawmakers either. Andrew Welhouse, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said while GOP leadership expects to eventually have a discussion on Pridemore’s bill, there are no plans to move on the bill in the “immediate future.”

Spokesmen for both Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald have said they are focused on the budget and job creation for the time being.

Immigrant rights groups emphatically oppose the bill. Joe Shansky, spokesperson for Voces de la Frontera, said the bill is an affront to the state’s immigrant community and is likely unconstitutional. He also said that the bill would lead to the criminalization of innocent people.

“It violates the 14th Amendment because it does encourage racial discrimination against Latinos and anyone who may appear foreign and it clearly encourages them to base their judgment on people’s appearance,” Shanskey said. “It’s going to harm the trust that authorities need to police the communities they serve.”

A federal district court judge struck down parts of Arizona’s law last year and the ninth circuit court of appeals upheld that decision last month. Many states considering similar bills have pared down parts of their bills to avoid similar litigation.

Pridemore said he delayed introduction to revise language in the bill to prohibit any form of racial profiling. The bill makes clear that an officer must have reasonable suspicion that the individual is not in the country legally and that refusal or failure to provide identification would meet that standard. Pridemore said that since officers routinely ask for identification any stops they make, the chance of racial profiling is slim.

“There is nothing in this bill that would allow or encourage a police agency to go out looking for people to arrest,” Pridemore said.


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