JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill requiring Missouri law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of an individual who is stopped or detained if there is “reasonable suspicion” has advanced in the state Senate.
SJR 18 has passed out of committee and has been placed on the Senate’s perfection calendar to be taken up after the legislative spring break.
The bill — if approved by voters through a constitutional amendment — would mandate all state and local law enforcement officials “make a reasonable attempt” to check the immigration status of someone who has been stopped or detained “if reasonable suspicion exists” that the individual isn’t in the country legally. If a person has a valid Missouri or U.S. ID, then he or she is to be assumed lawfully in the country.
It further stipulates that anyone who has been arrested will have his or her immigration status checked before being released.
Officers would check an individual’s immigration status with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
The bill specifically states officers cannot use race, color, or national origin as a basis of suspicion for needing to verify an individual’s immigration status. Sen. Mike Cunningham, the Republican sponsor of the legislation, also denied it would “create racial profiling” during a committee hearing last week.
Still, the ACLU of Missouri opposes the bill, Sara Baker, the organization’s legislative and policy director, told The Missouri Times.
“SJR 18 would turn Missouri into a ‘show me your papers’ state and increase discrimination against Missouri’s vibrant immigrant community,” Baker said. “As law enforcement leaders across the country have explained, it’s impossible to enforce laws like this without profiling people by race, color, or ethnicity. Instead of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, this bill will drive a wedge between the two.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the newspaper in 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.