SANCTUARY OPPONENT: Brandt Smith speaks for bill to stop city policies that help immigrant residents.

After a defeat yesterday, the House City, County and Local Affairs Committee approved SB 411 to prohibit local governments from adopting “sanctuary” policies toward immigrants.

The bill got nine votes yesterday, with a number of members absent. It got 14 today, more than enough to go to the House floor tomorrow for the final day of the legislative session.


Mireya Reith, an advocate for immigrants, noted that the bill as written, through clumsy drafting, requires cities to ask people about residency status, which amounts to illegal profiling. Others, too, complained about the profiling of people who appeared to have foreign roots, even legal citizens. She urged the committee not to roll back the good feeling given by the legislature in allowing DACA-qualified immigrants to qualify for nursing school and in-state tuition. “Please do not expose them to racial profiling,” she asked.

Rep. Fredrick Love (D-Little Rock) opposed the bill.  Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) had said the bill would get attention and prompt discussions in Washington, which he said had failed in enforcing immigration law.


But, said Love, “This is not a bill that would spur dialogue at the federal level. This is a bill that would produce a chilling effect among a population.” And if anyone understands how targeted populations can be chilled by law enforcement, it is an African-American, said Love, who is black.

Reith predicted passage of the law would bring lawsuits if used to shut down existing policies in several cities, such as an ID program funded for immigrants, homeless and others in Little Rock. City Director Lance Hines again appeared to express his unhappiness about that program and other administrative policies of the city. Normally, he said, he’d be against the state preventing the creation of local policies, but not in this case.


Rep. Carol Dalby (R-Texarkana), who voted for the bill, complained that people had said unpleasant things because she wasn’t present for the vote yesterday. She had a conflict and was not avoiding a vote, she said.

Yes, that anti-immigrant side can be mean.