Update, Jan. 31, 2017, 3:40 p.m.: HB 1042 did not come up for a vote in committee this morning after all. Rep. Smith told the committee he would be amending the measure before bringing it back for a vote.
The Arkansas United Community Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights in Arkansas, is saying on Facebook that a piece of legislation targeting immigrants on college campuses is likely to come up for a vote in the House Education committee Tuesday morning.
HB 1042, sponsored by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro), would “prohibit sanctuary policies at state-supported institutions of higher education.” Smith has amended the bill since it was first introduced in December, and the current version is slightly less alarming than the original version. Among other things, it removes language that included “informally adopted” policies within the “sanctuary policy” definition.
The concept is the same as before, though: A cudgel to enforce federal immigration policy by way of withholding state funding from colleges and universities.
As President Donald Trump has moved to enact punitive new measures on migration over the past several days — including bans on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries — the question of how federal immigration policy will be enforced under the new administration has taken center stage in American politics. Unlike some other Republicans, Arkansas’s congressional delegation have either voiced support for Trump’s ban or stayed silent. But state-level policy has enormous consequences for immigrants, too. HB 1042 would mean restrictive new federal measures on immigration have much sharper teeth in Arkansas, especially in regards to college students.
Smith’s bill doesn’t mention any specific country, nationality or religion. The Arkansans most likely to be affected by this legislation, should it pass, are undocumented immigrants (most of them Latino) who came to the United States as children and are now attending college in the state, or are seeking to attend college.
The bill is the first item listed on the agenda of the Education Committee tomorrow, which meets at 10 a.m.