So, if you weren’t already aware, we are well into Montana’s 2019 Legislative Session. While we have not yet seen any refugee specific bills pop up, there is a bill, HB146, and companion state referendum, HB147, that we are worried about. This bill regards Sanctuary Cities, and places HUGE fines on municipal governments for not deferring to federal agencies in regard to immigration. Please read our statement below that we submitted before the bill recently passed committee and quickly got sent through the House- passing all 3 readings. We still have time to stop this by contacting our Senators before it reaches the senate floor. It is first headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee- so especially contact these folks using the easy link above!
Here are some main points you may mention when calling:
-Solution in search of a problem. No city or town has a sanctuary city policy.
-Takes away local government choice.
-Imposes huge penalties and imposes costs of compliance, even for an informal policy.
-Symbolic effect of the law/referendum is to raise fears of immigrants living among us; divides and stirs the pot.
-Unjust, unconstitutional and a waste of state resources.
-Counter-productive. Puts the most vulnerable, women in situations of domestic violence and human trafficking victims, at highest risk by placing barriers between immigrants and law enforcement.
-Bill has been proposed last 3-4 legislative sessions and never passed. Referendum would be struck down as unconstitutional.
So PLEASE, contact your senators ASAP on this issue. Tell them to VOTE NO on HB146 and HB147. It is quick, it is easy, and it makes a HUGE difference!
Testimony in opposition to HB 146 and HB 147
Soft Landing Missoula is a local, grassroots non-profit whose mission is to help Missoula be a welcoming, supportive and informed community that can assist refugees as they integrate and thrive. Thanks to the International Rescue Committee as the resettlement agency, about 225 refugees from four countries now call Missoula home. Although refugees are immigrants with documented status, we understand the plight of undocumented individuals, for they have also suffered and feared much in the countries from which they fled.
We oppose HB 146 and HB 147 because they do nothing to make Montana residents safer. The proposed legislation is a useless, threatening gesture, “nugatory” in legal terms, that promises punishing fines to Montana towns and cities that do anything to block or delay or give less priority to the giving of information to federal immigration authorities. These bills falsely assume a solution where no problem exists; as the fiscal note to this bill says, no Montana town or city has adopted any resolution or ordinance restricting any information about a person’s citizenship status or prohibiting compliance with a federal immigration order.
Would the resources and time committed to investigating and enforcing such punitive measures make Montanans any safer? All of us want safety, and immigrants in Missoula have experienced that commitment by Montana law enforcement. But federal law enforcement in the service of safety and national security has not always guaranteed these things, even for citizens. In recent years federal enforcement agencies have been responsible for much unnecessary pain--family separations, child detentions, cruel asylum policies, racial profiling, and more. These actions continue to erode public confidence in immigration enforcement.
Moreover, this approach is counter-productive. These types of policies create fear in the local immigrant communities and spreads distrust, particularly among women in domestic violence situations, and women and girls who are here as a result of human trafficking. They are the ones who are at greatest risk of being dissuaded from trusting law enforcement if they believe the local police will turn them over to ICE if they reach out for help and potentially force them back into unsafe circumstances. Intentionally placing barriers between Montana law enforcement and immigrants, Montana government and minorities, is onerous and not helpful to anyone.
Please vote against HB 146 and HB 147.
The board of Soft Landing Missoula and executive director Mary Poole