Kentucky Republicans want Arizona-style immigration law

The Lexington Herald-LeaderDecember 13, 2010 

FRANKFORT — Kentucky state Senate Republicans will file legislation similar to a controversial Arizona law that would allow police to carry out federal immigration law, said Senate President David Williams.

Williams, R-Burkesville, announced the Senate majority's legislative agenda Friday after the 23 members of the Republican caucus met for two days in Frankfort. The legislative session begins in January.

The expansive agenda includes proposals to overhaul the state's tax code, change the state's campaign laws and tweak state government pensions for new employees.

Williams, who plans to run for the Republican nomination for governor in the spring, declined to talk about specifics of the Senate's planned proposal regarding immigration enforcement, saying only that it would be similar to legislation that passed in Arizona.

If it were in effect, Arizona's law would require police to determine the immigration status of people they have stopped and determine whether the person is in the country legally. That law is currently being challenged in the federal court of appeals.

The bill would allow police to enforce federal immigration laws, he said.

Some called the proposal short-sighted and said it would do more harm than good.

"This kind of legislation is being pushed forward or promoted on the basis of a whole series of misunderstandings, misconceptions and falsehoods," said Brian Rich, a professor of sociology at Transylvania University who has studied immigration. Rich said the country's immigration laws are broken, but that asking state and local police to enforce immigration law panders to a very vocal minority.

"I am very disturbed," Rich said. "It is very opportunistic and they are trying to ride anti-immigration sentiment. Survey after survey shows that most people favor some sort of legalization."

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