Montana bans sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants

Supporters of the bill claim sanctuary cities nationwide have led to increased criminal activity

Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed legislation banning sanctuary cities throughout the state earlier this week.

"We are a nation of laws, and immigration laws will be enforced in Montana," Gianforte said in a statement," the governor said in a statement.

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The legislation allows the state’s attorney general to pursue civil action against jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal laws – though the measure is largely symbolic as the state does not currently have any sanctuary cities.

Supporters of the bill claim sanctuary cities nationwide have led to increased criminal activity and the legislation will serve as a preemptive measure to ensure such actions do not arise in Montana.

Opponents of anti-sanctuary bills believe the measures lead to distrust amongst minority communities and law enforcement.

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Former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a similar bill in 2019.

Montana’s latest immigration bill will require cities across the state to cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The state will also be able to withhold funding and grants for cities or counties that fail to comply with the legislation.

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Undocumented migrants account for 12 percent of the state’s migrant population, equating to roughly 5,000 individuals – less than half a percent of the state’s total population in 2016, reported the American Immigration Council.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.