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Immigration Bill Clears Senate Committee

Senator John Schickel says federal authorities aren’t getting the job done when it comes to removing illegal aliens from Kentucky. So, he’s sponsoring legislation that would allow state and local police, upon reasonable suspicion, to check a person’s immigration status.

An immigration bill modeled after a similar law in Arizona has cleared a Kentucky Senate committee.

Senator John Schickel says federal authorities aren’t getting the job done when it comes to removing illegal aliens from Kentucky. So, he’s sponsoring legislation that would allow state and local police, upon reasonable suspicion, to check a person’s immigration status.

“If they determine that the person entered the country illegally, then that person is to be taken to federal authorities for deportation,” he says.

Schickel says the measure could not be enforced in a cavalier fashion.

“The law requires that it be a lawful contact,” he says. “Next, police discretion is authorized to make sure that there is reasonable suspicion. And lastly, as I said before, the circumstances has to be practical.”

Opponents argue the bill goes further than the Arizona law, which is already being challenged in federal court, and its costs have not been properly evaluated. Louisville Senator Perry Clark, sees no need for the bill.

“All this is current federal law. It’s on the books. I find most of this to be redundant and unnecessary. It will do nothing to advance solutions to real comprehensive immigration reform on the national level. It’s very divisive here. This is a terribly written law,” says Clark. “It’s terribly timed legislation. I vote no!”

Despite the concerns, the measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on an 8-3 vote and now heads to the Senate floor.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004.

His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states.

McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta.

In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011.

His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states.

McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.