Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington), left, and Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden)
The Vermont Senate will likely vote next week on a bill declaring that Vermont police agencies won’t enforce President Donald Trump’s immigration order, a key lawmaker said Tuesday.
“We’re not going to use local law enforcement or state law enforcement to carry out the president’s order on immigration,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington). “There’s a worry that Vermont police would be asked to enforce immigration law,” he added.
The president’s executive order, currently lifted as it is contested in court, halted the inflow into the United States of refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Such an order mostly involves federal agencies, but Vermont officials fear the feds could rope in local police agencies to enforce the immigration decree.
Sears said legislators are working with Gov. Phil Scott and Attorney General T.J. Donovan to craft the legislation, which emerged from a civil rights panel that Scott appointed last month.
Sears said his committee would start debating the still-being-written bill Thursday morning and the full Senate could vote next week. The House is also expected to act on the bill.
Sears said he’s not concerned that Vermont could face financial consequences if the president threatens federal funding because other states, including California, are working on similar efforts.
“Are they really going to say, ‘We’re going to pull all federal funding from California if you don’t do this?’” he said. “I think the states banding together have a certain amount of power.”