Kentucky Politics

On Monday in Louisville, a panel of immigration experts will discuss the anti-sanctuary cities bill making its way through the Kentucky legislature.

The bill has already passed out of a state Senate committee and would ban cities, state agencies and public employees from adopting policies that discourage them from cooperating with immigration officials.

University of Louisville Professor Riffat Hassan, an Islamic scholar and one of the event’s organizers, says the bill would create a culture of fear among Kentucky’s immigrant and minority communities.

“The intent doesn’t seem to be positive. It’s not beneficent in its intent. It doesn’t give compassion and understanding to people who have already gone through so much,” Hassan said.

The event is organized by two Louisville-based immigration advocacy organizations, the Salaam Network and the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, and will feature a panel of immigration lawyers, advocates and religious leaders.

Supporters of the anti-sanctuary policies bill say it would ensure that Kentucky government agencies cooperate with federal immigration authorities and make the state safer.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah and the bill’s sponsor, said last week that it would be wrong for state and local officials to ignore federal law.

“It will put our people at risk. If we send a message that we are going to allow sanctuary for criminals, they will come to our state,” Carroll said.

Carroll amended the original bill to exempt some state agencies, including domestic violence shelters, public defenders and health departments. Public schools are exempted, but state colleges and universities are not.

Hassan, who founded the Salaam Network, said she is concerned universities would be forced to provide immigration officials records about their students.

“I think once these bills become law, the state will have the authority to do anything, go anywhere, look at anybody,” Hassan said.

The bill passed out of a state Senate committee last week and is now eligible for a vote in the full Senate.

The event will take place Monday, February 3 at 6:30 pm at the Guiding Light Islamic Center in Louisville.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.