CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The House convened on Friday to speak on a number of bills including House Bill 2008 pertaining to enforcement of immigration laws on the local level.
The bill would see state code amendment to require state entities and law enforcement agencies to cooperate with immigration law enforcement enacted by government agencies.
The bill was filed for introduction on January 12, 2023 and passed through the House Judiciary Committee on January 31, 2023.
House Bill 2008 would see a subsequent reading on each of the following days as the legislature worked throughout the week and passed through the House on Friday following a minor amendment to language of page 6, section 7, line 1 proposed by Delegates Capito and Mazzocchi.
“Right now, the federal government is failing us. We have to take care of our West Virginia citizens first, and that’s what this bill strives to do. I support this bill, and I hope that you will take care of your county resources and support this bill too,” said lead sponsor Delegate Todd Longanacre (R – Greenbrier, 047.)
“This is called preparation. This is called forward thinking. Because if we do not get a handle on this now, it’s going to eat our lunch. We’re going to watch a billion-dollar surplus quickly be drained as county upon county reach out to the state and say, ‘help us, we need more lodging, we need more food, we need more resources.’ This bill seeks to hold municipalities responsible and accountable when they identify where those people are.”
Delegate Kayla Young (D – Kanawha, 056) questioned the bill’s pertinence on the local level, concluding, “I’m going to be a ‘no’ just because this isn’t our job, I’d like to leave it to the people whose job it is.”
Delegate Riley Keaton (R – Roane, 015) also voiced support for the bill, citing the need to protect the country from criminals entering illegally. “I have repeatedly voted in support of legislation that would hold sanctuary cities accountable,” he said. “I am proud to join my colleagues in this amendment to uphold the rule of law.”
Speaking to Delegate Keaton’s mention of sanctuary cities, Delegate Hansen (D – Monongalia, 079) pointed out that the bill, as presented, makes no mention of sanctuary cities and could be seen as an infringement upon local control.
“We heard nothing in committee then, nor have we heard anything since, [to indicate] that our law enforcement agencies are not complying. We’re complying with federal law. There’s no need for this bill,” he said, imploring his colleagues to have faith in local law enforcement.
“Let’s have a little bit of trust and our law enforcement agencies, let’s have a little bit of trust in our counties and our cities to make decisions on their own behalf. If they make bad decisions, they’ll be voted out of office. This is local control.”
House Bill 2008 would pass by a large margin, with 87 yeas, 6 nays, and 7 absent. The bill will now be communicated to the Senate.
Additional LOOTPRESS coverage of the 2023 WV Legislature can be found here.