One state lawmaker wants to bring Arizona’s new illegal immigration laws that have sparked a federal lawsuit north to Idaho. Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, is working with other north Idaho lawmakers on adapting the Arizona laws to Idaho.
“It’s pretty much the Arizona bill that’s raised all this controversy, but I think it’s a good bill obviously,” Nonini told IdahoReporter.com. “If the federal government isn’t going to go out and enforce their own policies, as they’re not in Arizona, then the states sure need to defend their borders.”
The proposed laws would allow police to check the citizenship of anyone they think might be in the country illegally if they have been detained for another possible offense. The legislation also allows citizens to sue cities and counties for not enforcing federal immigration laws.
Nonini said that while Idaho doesn’t border Mexico like Idaho, there could be border issues with Canada. “We don’t have the drug cartels pouring in across our southern border like Arizona has, but our northern border does border a foreign country,” he said. “There have been documented cases of Chinese women smuggling through our northern border for prostitution reasons.”
“I think it’s a popular thing,” Nonini said about Arizona’s law. “I think it’s the right thing to do. We want to protect our state, just like Arizona wants to protect their state.”
Arizona’s law isn’t universally popular. The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Arizona over its illegal immigration law. Idaho’s congressional delegation has opposed that lawsuit. In Idaho, there have been protests against Arizona’s law, with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Idaho Community Action Network opposing it.
The Idaho Republican Party passed a resolution during its state convention last month endorsing Arizona’s law, but rejected a similar plan urging lawmakers to adopt a similar measure.
Nonini said he’s working on the legislation with two other north Idaho Republicans, Rep. Eric Anderson of Priest Lake and Rep. Frank Henderson of Post Falls. “We’ve got to spend the next few months trying to find that support amongst our House colleagues,” Nonini said. “That’s why I’ve got it drafted in July, so we can shop this thing out and see if we can find enough support.”
Several anti-illegal immigration plans stalled in the Idaho Legislature without getting to a full vote earlier this year. Nonini said his imported version of Arizona’s law could succeed where those failed because it doesn’t include the E-Verify program, which is designed to help employers check the status of their workers.
Nonini said he’s gotten a draft of his Idaho version of Arizona’s law from the Legislative Services Office, which helps legislators write potential laws. He said it sticks close to Arizona’s law, though changes could come before lawmakers reconvene in January. Anderson, and Henderson are unopposed in the November election, while Nonini faces a Democratic challenger.