A House committee approved Thursday a bill that would prohibit cities from having policies that forbid police from routinely asking about immigration status.
The House Public Safety committee approved the bill on a divided voice vote. It would block cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul from having so-called "separation" or "sanctuary" ordinances.
State Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, wants tougher enforcement of illegal immigrants.
"There is a process in the United States and I know immigrants, I know refugees, I know people that work here with visas and green cards and there's a legal process to do so and they follow the laws," she said. "I was a foreigner in a foreign land and I never thought I was above the law."
Police in Minneapolis and St. Paul testified against the bill. They said current policies don't give criminals sanctuary, but instead allow victims and witnesses in immigrant communities to cooperate with police.
"I cannot see how we ... are going to allow this bill to come through this committee and pass when we have had the professionals come through and tell us the impact that this bill would have on the citizens in the state of Minnesota," said Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul.
Crime has dropped in both cities while separation ordinances have been in place.