A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Banning sanctuary cities in Ky. remains a hot topic in Frankfort as supporters, opponents speak out

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Supporters of a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Kentucky, sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, came out to defend the legislation against recent complaints on Thursday.

The opponents of the bill were vocal, too, among them the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which calls the bill “dangerous and could have sweeping consequences for all Kentuckians if passed.”

According to ACLU advocacy Director Kate Miller: “The bill requires law enforcement to blindly carry out requests by federal immigration authorities, turning local control on its head and leaving counties responsible for any constitutional violations. The bill seeks to use our public agency employees as immigration agents, without any training.”

Supporters of a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Kentucky had a press conference Thursday. From left: Lexington Police Lt. Jason Rotherman, past president of the FOP; Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville; Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, the main sponsor; Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

She also fears the measure “will lead to racial profiling and intimidation of black and brown Kentuckians.”

Miller also said the legislation is a solution in search of a problem. “Our immigration system needs to be updated and those updates are required to come from the federal level. The Trump administration has been clear: there are no cities in Kentucky that have policies that violate federal immigration law.”

In addition to prohibiting local governments and other agencies from adopting procedures that would hinder federal immigration laws, the language of the bill also would “require law enforcement officials, representatives, agents, and employees of law enforcement agencies, public officials, representatives, agents, and employees of public agencies to use their best efforts, considering available resources, to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

K-12 schools would be exempt from the bill due to existing federal law, while institutions of higher education are not.

Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, a retired KSP trooper who supports the measure, admits this is not currently a problem in the state.

“This changes nothing in Kentucky if someone wants to, for political pandering, choose to enact a sanctuary status,” he said. “What they don’t know, in doing so, is they are endangering the lives of their citizens, including those who may be there illegally. People have asked, ‘Well, if it’s not going to change anything, why do we need it?’ Well, the old saying is in Kentucky we’re running 20 years behind the rest of the nation. It’s coming, so we’re going to get out ahead of it.”

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he supports the measure as well. “This bill is necessary to ensure that law enforcement can continue to carry on and carry out their sworn duties to protect and serve.”

Lt. Jason Rotherman, past president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he also supports the legislation. “People that are in vulnerable communities, such as our immigrant communities, need protecting from the people that come here illegally to do harm to them.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 1.

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