UK groups protest in Frankfort, students unhappy with Kentucky Senate Bill 6

By Gary Hermann

Several student groups at UK are going to Frankfort on Tuesday to join other Kentuckians in opposing the Kentucky Senate Bill 6, which proposes stronger measures against undocumented immigrants.

In its current form, the bill proposes to “allow for determining the immigration status of a person on reasonable suspicion, the arrest of an unlawful alien upon probable cause and the transference of a convicted unlawful alien to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States Customs and Border Protection,” according to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

The UK Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said in a statement, “The legislation would sanction racial and cultural profiling as a remedy to illegal immigration. We reject this approach categorically. We believe that addressing a problem’s root cause is a more just and effective way to redress a failed policy than the paring away of our civil liberties. Fear and suspicion do not solve problems; they create them.”

This bill resembles the Arizona bill that set off national outrage earlier in the year. However, several states are now trying to enact bills similar to Arizona’s.

The UK American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement, “SB6 punishes undocumented persons and their friends in a way suggestive less of immigration policy and more of a witch hunt.”

The bill will also “specify that officials or agencies may not be prohibited from sharing the immigration status of a person under specific instances; indemnify a governmental law enforcement officer where the officer has been brought into a legal action,” according to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

“I cannot begin to understand how our legislators thought that a bill as harsh as SB6 was the answer to whatever they perceived our immigration issues to be,” third year law student Sarah Mills said. “This bill will not solve any of our immigration problems. What it will do is cost the tax payers of Kentucky millions of dollars at a time when we absolutely cannot afford it.”

UK Kentuckians for the Commonwealth said in a statement that it “disdains legislation that would fund racial discrimination at the expense of the taxpayer.”

The bill has passed in the Senate and is currently before a House Committee.

One amendment to the bill does, “require an unauthorized alien to have been arrested prior to being turned over to federal authorities,” according to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

“I think the worst part of the bill is section 8 which makes it a crime to ‘transport’ an undocumented person,” Mills said. “I believe that this section was put in to target their documented family members and charitable organizations. There are no exceptions for school bus drivers, ambulance drivers, church transport, lawyers, no one except police who are transporting them to jail.”

People from all across Kentucky are expected to attend “Stop SB6” Lobby and Rally Day in Frankfort.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with lobby training. At 10 a.m. the attendees will lobby their legislators and at 11:30 a.m. there will be a rally and press conference.

“I just hope that we get a big showing,” Mills said. “I hope to send a message to our representatives that participatory democracy is not completely dead and the people of Kentucky will not stand idly by while their elected officials chip away at their civil liberties.”