FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — This year, Senate Republicans picked a controversial immigration bill as the chamber's top priority for the 2020 legislative session.
Senate Bill One, which is being called the "Federal Immigration Cooperation Act of 2020" is barely five pages long, but it already has people fighting about it.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah, defended the bill on Thursday, saying it's a safety necessity in Kentucky.
"It is a public safety issue," said Sen. Carroll. "It's a good policy. It's a good law."
The bill bans "sanctuary policies" and requires most public employees to play a role in immigration enforcement. Specifically, the bill says "employees of a public agency shall use their best efforts, considering available resources, to support the enforcement of federal immigration law."
Critics of the bills, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, worry it could turn public workers into immigration police.
"Public employees and employees of public agencies includes libraries. That includes colleges and universities. It includes medical providers. It includes child protective services. Individuals that work in foster care," said Kate Miller, the Advocacy Director for the ACLU. "Are these really the folks that we want engaging in federal immigration enforcement? Especially because of the risk that that entails."
Public schools employees would not be included because their K-12 students are protected by federal law.
Carroll insists the bill would not require proactive action by the other public employees. He and other supporters of the bill, which include Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, believe the bill is simply meant to be another tool for officers. They believe it will secure the cooperation between different law enforcement agencies.
"This bill is necessary to ensure that law enforcement can continue to carry on and carry out their sworn duties," said Cameron.
"This bill is not a statement on immigration by any means," said Carroll. "This is a statement on law enforcement and what the law will be in this Commonwealth when it comes to law enforcement's ability to cooperate."