Missouri Senate Bill 64: An Anti-Sanctuary Bill 

Senator Burlison (R) introduced SB64 on January 9th, 2019.  This devastating piece of legislation proposes to alter the definition of sanctuary policies and would penalize local governments that enact commonsense policies to protect immigrants.

In 2008, the Missouri legislature passed HB1549 (introduced by Rep. Bob Onder), the first anti-sanctuary law in our state. HB1549 created strict definitions for sanctuary cities, an almost unprecedented move at the time. So what is a sanctuary city? A “sanctuary city” generally refers any locality that enacts one or multiple of a variety of policies to shape the ways local law enforcement interact with federal law enforcement. The massive federal immigration enforcement machine relies heavily on local law enforcement to increase their capacity to detain and deport hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, families, and loved ones. HB1549 takes away the power and control of local governments to determine how to govern their communities. However, as Lena Graber describes in her article, “Searching for Sanctuary”, we know that “local jurisdictions have no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, which is the responsibility of the federal government. A local decision to offer resources to federal immigration enforcement authorities is completely voluntary.”

SB64 seek to expand the power of HB1549 and further define Missouri as an anti-immigrant state. Under SB64, any city or municipality that enacts or behaves as if having enacted any policy that restricts the voluntary assistance to the federal government would be ineligible for certain state funds. SB64 will penalize governments that prioritize local needs over volunteering to assist with federal priorities. SB64 would be the first law to define a sanctuary city, in written and practiced policy. The passage of SB64 would lead to diminished local power and voice, increased racial profiling, and would endanger the already delicate relationships between community members and law enforcement. Studies have shown that “when communities view local law enforcement as a direct gateway to permanent separation from their families, the already-fragile relationship of community trust with police becomes completely severed

The so-called sanctuary policies that this bill opposes are those that put restrictions on ICE’s ability to take people into custody without due process; they are policies that require ICE to obtain a warrant or demonstrate probable cause. Some of these kinds of human-first policies prohibit law enforcement from asking someone of his or her immigration status. For a more detailed description of the kinds of policies that would be considered “sanctuary” under SB64, check out this article and this one, too.

click here Check out Sara john’s testimony before the Senate committee.

Aligning with IFCLA

As stated in the testimony, SB64 would be yet another example of institutionalizing discrimination in the state of Missouri. As part of the principle of co-responsibility, we need to take action to improve safety and trust in the community by ensuring that the dignity of our neighbors and their value in our communities is not related to their place of birth.  SB64 does not help us build liberated communities and would damage the state’s unique diversity in religion, values, tradition, and even the economy.

bill tracking

Our partners at the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) are tracking this bill as it progresses through the legislature and have prepared helpful talking points on SB64, which are available online here.