I like and respect Tim Green and Chris Koster, two able state senators from either side of Missouri. But, I would strongly oppose a bill they have introduced in Jeff City that - according to media accounts - would require the state’s landlords, police officers, social services workers, college teachers, and employers -- often under the threat of punishment - to act as immigration agents to determine the nationality and residency status of the people they encounter.
There is no doubt that the country needs some sort of comprehensive immigration reform. But there should be plenty of doubt about a piecemeal approach to the effort that creates a national patchwork of conflicting state and local laws.
Here in St. Louis, safe neighborhoods depend on a strong working partnership between the local police and community organizations. Chief Joe Mokwa and his officers have worked diligently for years to gain the trust of the City’s strong Bosnian, Hispanic, and Asian communities. It would be a bad thing to undermine that effort with an ill-considered state law that required them to check the legal status of every person they detain.
A City as diverse as ours does not need a state law that requires some of its residents to cultivate suspicions about others.