Wisconsin Capitol building generic, State Journal photo (copy)

The state Capitol in Madison.

So-called "sanctuary cities" in Wisconsin could not receive state funding under a bill passed by the Assembly on Tuesday. 

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote in the Senate. It was passed on a party-line vote in the Assembly as lawmakers rush to complete their final week on the floor this session.

Although the Assembly is wrapping up earlier than the floor period is scheduled to last, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Tuesday the process is similarly frantic regardless of when it occurs. 

The bill, introduced by Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, in October, would ban a municipality or county from having a policy preventing officials from inquiring about the immigration status of arrestees or otherwise refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

If a community were to violate the law, a district attorney, sheriff or the attorney general could file a writ with the circuit court to require compliance. The court would be required to inform the state Department of Revenue, which would reduce the community's shared revenue payments in the next year by between $500 and $5,000, depending on its population, for each day of noncompliance.

The proposal has earned strong objections from undocumented immigrants currently living in Wisconsin, who say they feel they're being targeted. Democrats argued Tuesday the bill does nothing to address any problems occurring in Wisconsin, and instead play on "the politics of fear."

But Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, argued that immigrants should not be made "a political football." 

"I believe that fear has been perpetrated in part … by inaccurate statements by those who have little regard for what this bill in its final form really does," Kulp said.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, has said she's concerned the bill would cause a crime victim who is undocumented to hesitate before reporting the crime or assisting with an investigation.

"This is a mistake that you're making not just for Latino Wisconsinites, but for your party," Zamarippa said on the Assembly floor Tuesday evening.

Sanctuary cities emerged in the U.S. in the 1980s, but the debate surrounding them has reignited in the context of the 2016 presidential election, particularly after a woman was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco, a sanctuary city, this summer.

Madison has been classified by some as a sanctuary city, but Mayor Paul Soglin has said it's not. In 2010, the city council passed a resolution instructing police not to inform federal immigration officers about undocumented immigrants unless they are charged with violent crimes.

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Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said the bill wouldn't change the practices of law enforcement in Madison, but could strain relationships between law enforcement and undocumented immigrants who may fear contact with police.

Spiros has said the impetus for the bill was the incident in San Francisco, not anything that has happened in Wisconsin. He said his bill only targets people who have committed crimes.

A similar bill introduced in 2007 by then-state Sen. Glenn Grothman (now a congressman) and then-state Rep. Roger Roth (now a state senator) failed to pass the Senate. That bill had a broader reach, and would have banned a municipality or county from having a policy preventing officials from inquiring about the immigration status of anyone seeking or receiving public services.

Spiros said his bill is intentionally more specific than that earlier effort.

"It's not there to hurt innocent people, those who call in on something," Spiros told the Cap Times in December. "We’re not trying to target immigrants, illegal immigrants, whatever. Basically this bill is to protect all of us."

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.