Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, introduced a bill to the House State Affairs Committee Monday morning that would discourage "sanctuary cities" in Idaho and require law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Chaney presented his bill to a packed committee room. Public interest was so great, another room inside the Capitol was opened so that more people could view a live-stream of Chaney's short presentation.
"Some of the reaction already has made me keenly aware of some of the emotion behind this issue," Chaney said.
If passed, the bill would cut off state sales tax funding for "sanctuary cities". Currently, there are no such cities in Idaho.
"It has nothing to do with the refugee issue," Chaney said. "It addresses those who don't have a legal right to be here, and all the refugees are given a legal right to be here."
The bill would prevent local law enforcement agencies from arresting people solely for immigration violations, but the bill would allow detentions where an individual has violated a state law in the form of a misdemeanor or felony.
"Our laws mean something," Chaney said. "Our borders mean something. Our safety and security means something."
Chaney asked that an emergency clause be added to the bill so that it becomes a effective as soon as it's signed into law.
Only one nay vote was cast regarding the introduction of the bill. That nay came from Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer.
"I think with that when we look at this legislation, we also have to look at all of the unintended consequences," Jordan said. "That unintended consequence will be impacts for our immigrants who are employed by our dairy farmers, by our ag farmers, you name it."
Jordan says she believes cities should be able to decide on their own if they want to become sanctuaries for immigrants.
"As we see this rise in sanctuary cities across the nation, I fully support those sanctuary cities, but I also fully support local control," Jordan said.
"We're leaving it in the hands of the federal government," Chaney said. "This is a federal issue, and we're just letting cities and counties know, or reminding the cities and counties of that fact."
The bill must now pass a full legislative hearing.