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State Immigration Bill Proposed in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - A Republican Assemblyman this week introduced an immigration bill that will require residents to carry identification. Failure to do so would allow police to arrest and hold them for 48 hours if officers have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is undocumented.

If proof of legal presence in Wisconsin is not provided within that time, the person is to be sent to a federal jail for deportation.

If a person is convicted of a crime and has no proof of residency, the deportation process is to begin upon release from jail.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Don Pridemore, of Hartford, which is about 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

Municipalities and counties that do not comply with the law would be fined $500 a day.

The law prohibits racial profiling, stating that "a law enforcement officer may not consider race, color, or national origin ... except to the extent permitted by the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions."

Pridemore stated in a press release, "The primary focus of the revisions was to eliminate any and all forms of racial profiling while protecting the integrity of U.S. citizenship."

He added: "This is an action that should have begun long ago when the federal government and the current administration stopped efforts to secure our borders. Now that the illegal drug trade and human trafficking have put the lives and property of those along our borders in peril, we must do all we can to dissuade the criminal element from looking at Wisconsin as a safe haven." Pridemore said.

"The 'status quo' is unacceptable in terms of the costs of law enforcement, crime, taxes, and social benefits, along with a host of other social problems tied to the issue. To simply do nothing would sentence another generation of families to a life of hiding in car trunks, continuously looking over their shoulder and continuing to be slaves of their work environment."

Immigration advocates were outraged by the proposal.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Milwaukee-based Voces de la Frontera, called it "an assault on workers."

With as many as six Republican state senators facing recall elections this summer, the bill is not likely to be high on the Legislature's work list. The recalls, and the state's political turmoil, were set off by Gov. Scott Walker's so-called Budget Repair Bill that gutted the rights of public employees unions.

Republicans hold an overwhelming majority in the Assembly and could pass the immigration bill if they choose to subject the state to another constitutional struggle.

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