Immigration bill clears Senate Judiciary Panel by 8-3 vote

01/06/2011 03:16 PM

FRANKFORT — All seven Republicans and one Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants in Kentucky.

The legislation has drawn concerns from some groups, including the Kentucky Council of Churches, who have argued that its broad language could result in filling up the jails and encourage racial profiling.

The bill allows law enforcement agents to approach individuals and ask for their citizenship status.

Three Democrats — Sens. Jerry Rhoads of Madisonville, Robin Webb of Grayson and Perry Clark of Louisville — spoke against the bill and voted “No.”

Sen. John Schickel, a Republican from Union and a former U.S. Marshal, did most of the speaking in defense of the bill.

“We simply have to enforce the law. It’s simply not fair to people who have immigrated here and followed the law,” ┬ásaid. “And now we have so many of our laws being ignored.”

The lone Democrat to vote for the legislation, Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville, said he did have some concerns about the legislation’s wording of the bill. Specifically, he questioned a provision that seemed to allow law enforcement agents to arrest someone found to be in the country illegally for trespassing.

Also Thursday, the Judiciary Committee also unanimously passed a bill aimed at curbing Medicaid fraud.

- Reporting Don Weber


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