2017-02-15 / Nation/World

Bill challenging Trump orders moving fast in Vt.

BY CORY DAWSON
The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt.

A bill intended to counter what lawmakers and Republican Gov. Phil Scott have called unconstitutional overreach by the administration of President Donald Trump on immigration policy is moving quickly through the law-making process.

State Sen. Dick Sears, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said his committee is working with lawyers to make sure it doesn’t conflict with current state law. The full Senate could vote on the proposal by the end of the week.

“Right now our main goal is to not have unintended consequences,” said Sears, of Bennington.

Identical bills in the House and Senate were introduced last week on the heels of Trump’s executive order barring refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries admittance into the U.S.

The Vermont law would prevent state and local law enforcement officers from collecting personal information, including immigration status and bar the federal government from deputizing officers in the state. Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan, who helped craft the bill, described it as a “proactive” step.

One of Trump’s executive orders threatens to stop the flow of federal grant money to jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law. The federal government in the past has made good on threats to withhold money to states for refusing to make changes, such as complying with the 21-year-old drinking age, Sears said.

“That would be a big concern,” he said.

The bill has support from Democrats, Republicans and members of the state’s Progressive Party, but some House Republicans remain apprehensive.

The bill will likely be out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by Thursday and then go to a floor vote, Sears said. It would then be considered by the House.

If enacted, the law would go into effect July 1.

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