Augusta – A bipartisan majority in the Maine Senate today rejected a bill that would force local law enforcement to act as immigration agents. The House also voted against LD 366, sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Newport), in May.
“This bill is no more than an attempt to draft Maine’s police forces into President Trump’s deportation army,” said Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director at the ACLU of Maine. “Thankfully, representatives on both sides of the aisle recognized the importance of building trust between police and the communities they serve, and rejected this reactionary plan.”
While the federal government cannot require local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration enforcement, President Trump has called for police officers and sheriffs’ departments around the country to help enforce his anti-immigrant agenda. Like other so-called “anti-sanctuary” bills introduced around the nation, LD 366 attempts to capitalize on this anti-immigrant fervor.
But as law enforcement agents around the country have pointed out, local law enforcement officers are not trained as immigration agents and can't be expected to interpret very complicated immigration laws. Forcing local law enforcement to engage in immigration enforcement – including detaining people indefinitely under orders from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – would take away valuable resources that could otherwise be used on pressing issues like responding to emergencies.
The requirements of LD 366 would also subject local governments to potential legal battles, by pushing them to engage in unconstitutional behavior such as racial profiling and unlawful detention.
“In order to follow the directives of the bill, local governments would have to ignore the Constitution,” said Amarasingham. “LD 366 would send towns and cities into a legal nightmare. Legislators did in the right thing by rejecting this bill.”
Over 100 people turned out to oppose LD 366 at a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee.