A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky lawmakers considering bill demanding state’s public agencies cooperate with ICE

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill to require local police and other public agencies to actively participate in enforcing federal immigration law.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll from Paducah and ten other lawmakers – all Republicans – the bill is slated to be read tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Jessica Klein, policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says under the proposal, agencies that receive at least 25% of their funding from the state would have to comply.

According to the American Immigration Council, more than 150,000 Kentucky residents are immigrants. A proposal in the Legislature would mandate that state agencies work to help enforce federal immigration law. (Photo from Adobe Stock, via PNS)

She says cash-strapped local governments would have to spend time and resources arresting and deporting immigrants.

“This would require local law enforcement to detain individuals for longer periods of time, and to process with ICE individually,” says Klein. “A lot of times, local law enforcement isn’t reimbursed by the federal government to be doing this work, which is originally the responsibility of the federal government.”

The bill would also ban so-called “sanctuary cities.” Senator Carroll has been quoted as saying the legislation is a public safety measure.

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, the state would lose around $1.5 billion annually if all Kentucky residents without citizenship documents were deported from the state. Klein thinks aggressive immigration enforcement hurts local economies in other ways, as well.

“So, in addition to the cost to public agencies – including local law enforcement – the risks are also the long-term cost of individuals not participating in public services, including the trust that they have with their local government,” says Klein.

She’s convinced the policy would likely stoke the fear of deportation among families, which can have lasting consequences for communities.

“These issues aren’t just related to the individuals that may or may not be deported or detained as immigrants, but also people within their family and their household, including children,” says Klein.

One 2018 study found children are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, and not do as well in school, when a parent is deported.

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