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Wyoming’s proposed House Bill 94 allows for Wyoming citizens to sue local and state officials for not fully enforcing federal immigration laws, with fines ranging from $500 to $5000 per day that enforcement is not in effect.
Police Chiefs in Casper , Teton County and Cheyenne have expressed their concerns on both funding and manpower capabilities if the bill is approved.
“I don’t think that makes much sense to me,” said Casper Police Chief Tom Pagel. “To suggest that an individual is going to bring a suit ... that’s ridiculous. Do I have enough people that I would send them out to find illegal aliens?” he said. “No.”
Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak said local law enforcement does not have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
That authority falls to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said that if HB94 were passed, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office would need more resources to help enforce the law.
“I think that this kind of a thing could affect us from an economic standpoint,” he said. “I do believe that would impact the jail, housing, feeding (inmates) ... a whole host of things would come to play.”
“It’s an unfunded mandate, or it would turn into an unfunded mandate,” Whalen said. “I guess I am opposed to local law enforcement being mandated as a remedy for the failings of the federal government.”
Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, the bill’s prime sponsor, brushed off concerns when asked about it Friday afternoon.
“Oh well,” said Illoway. “Oh well, tough.”