ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage Assembly shot down a proposal that would have required police to routinely ask drivers who are stopped to provide proof they are American citizens, or legally visiting the state.
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The idea was promoted by Assemblyman Paul Bauer because he thinks Anchorage is marketing itself as a sanctuary city that tolerates and welcomes illegal aliens.
His intention was for police to ask everyone pulled over during routine traffic stops about their citizenship or immigration status.
As written, the law would have also applied to anyone detained by police for breaking a state or city law.
Bauer compared it to being asked for your license and proof of insurance, and said a driver's license, visa or green card could all be proof of legal residence.
Critics lined up against the plan, saying it would only foster racism and wasn't needed.
The Assembly voted 8-3 this week to kill the proposal. Assemblyman Allan Tesche called for the vote. He said Bauer's proposal was not the way to address the issue. He described it as "monstrously wrong."
Bauer, Dan Coffey and Dan Sullivan voted to keep the proposal alive, at least until January and after an intense debate on the city budget.
Bauer said the proposal is now dead before it even got public debate.
"When the Assembly stuck their head in the sand, to not look at the problem or debate the issue, they essentially marketed Anchorage as a sanctuary city," Bauer said.
The East Anchorage assemblyman proposed the new city law in September as a way for the city to team with federal authorities and crack down on illegal immigrants.
It was based on a boilerplate ordinance written by a group in Washington, D.C., called the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which believes the federal government isn't doing enough to combat illegal immigration and that cities should pick up the slack.
Mayor Mark Begich rejects the notion that Anchorage is a sanctuary city and says the city already fully cooperates with federal immigration authorities.
Margaret Stock, an immigration lawyer, testified against the proposal in front of the city's public safety committee.
She said the proposed law would have left the city vulnerable to expensive lawsuits and been tough for police to enforce in the field. "I think that there's this impression that you can just tell whether somebody is legal and illegal, and you can't."