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Bonini warns against "sanctuary cities" in new bill

James Dawson/Delaware Public Media

State senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) says Delaware is no place to harbor undocumented immigrants.

Bonini proposed a bill Monday forbidding any government entity from passing an ordinance or policy that would prevent police from reporting someone’s immigration status to federal officials.

“If Delaware were to become, or any of its cities or towns or government entities in Delaware were to become a sanctuary, we would become a magnet for illegal immigration, and quite frankly, a refuge for criminal illegal immigrants," he said.

He notes any such policy would attract criminals who aren’t legally allowed in the country, endangering the safety of others.

“Regardless of what one thinks about the federal laws that we currently have, they need to be enforced, and the idea that somehow we would exempt ourselves from those laws and become a magnet for illegal immigration is just wrong,” Bonini said.

Under the bill, any governmental entity that doesn’t follow those guidelines could jeopardize their access to state money and services.

Last year, Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) introduced a bill that would have prevented police from detaining, arresting and profiling people based on their immigration status, but he later withdrew it.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative Washington think tank, says there are about 300 cities and counties in the U.S. with some sort of sanctuary law.

Bonini's gubernatorial opponent, Congressman John Carney (D) says comprehensive immigration reform would solve these types of problems.

In a statement, he said, "Unfortunately, Republicans have been the main impediment to immigration reform in the Congress. State by state legislation is not the answer."

Carney also voted against a proposal in the House of Representatives similar to what Bonini proposed.

Four other state lawmakers have joined as sponsors of Bonini’s bill – none of which are Democrats.