By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming has not joined a legal effort to support a Florida law banning sanctuary cities because it has not been invited to do so.
An amicus brief in support of Florida’s law requiring law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration agencies has been filed in a federal appeals court by 17 Republican attorneys general.
Michael Pearlman, a spokesperson for Gov. Mark Gordon, said the attorney general’s office was not asked to sign on to the brief filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said if the state is invited, “it’s possible” Wyoming would join.
Montana and Nebraska have joined the brief, although several other Western states have not.
In 2019, the Florida legislature passed a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, requiring state and local government officials and employees to comply with federal immigration enforcement, in effect banning “sanctuary cities.”
Sanctuary cities are municipalities that commit to limiting law enforcement agencies’ cooperation with the federal government on immigration law. Proponents of such protections maintain that the move will reduce the fear of deportation among those living in the country illegally and avoid the possible dissolution of families.
By allowing the immigrants a safe haven, they will be more willing to report crimes, participate in the community, and enroll their children in school, according to backers.
There are currently more than 300 sanctuary cities in the U.S., the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates.
Wyoming does not have any laws addressing sanctuary cities. In 2020 the House defeated a bill that would have banned sanctuary cities and counties.
Wyoming is also the only state in the nation not to have a state-administered refugee resettlement program and Gordon has said he has no interest in starting one.
In 2021, Gordon declined to volunteer Wyoming as a haven for refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban overthrew the government, although his colleagues in South Dakota and Utah agreed to sign up for the resettlement program.
Gordon has made immigration one of his policy issues and he has often spoken out against housing undocumented immigrants in Wyoming.
This spring, he joined 25 other Republican governors in creating a “border strike force” to deal with problems created by immigration at the southern border. The partnership is “designed to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations taking advantage of the chaos [President] Joe Biden has created along the southern border.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Biden administration has some of the lowest deportation rates in the history of the agency with 48% fewer arrests and 63% fewer deportations of convicted criminal migrants in 2021 than in 2020.
In April, Wyoming also joined 19 states in asking a federal court to force the Biden administration to reinstate a policy preventing entry into the U.S. by people who pose a health risk.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement more than 2.1 million undocumented immigrants are living in the U.S., with more than 1.9 million of them have been ordered by a court to return to their home countries.