State Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday restricting local governments from offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants throughout Wisconsin. Under the new bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and Rep. Roger Roth, R-Grand Chute, cities and counties would be unable to pass laws prohibiting government employees from demanding proof of immigration status or notifying the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens. Currently, Dane County has an ordinance blocking government workers from asking for proof of citizenship. Racine, which may soon become a sanctuary city, has also faced pressure from activists to prohibit inquiries about legal status. Alex Gillis, political secretary for the Wisconsin Immigrant Workers Union, said the legislation is "another move for the anti-immigrant people in this state." He blamed the federal government for failing to provide a solution and forcing the states to take up the slack. Roth said he was unsure how many state employees already ask about immigration status. "My guess is they probably don't," Roth said. "But if they feel it's in the public safety, they should be allowed to do that." Calling the legislation a "prohibition against sanctuary cities," Roth added he sees a growing trend toward increasing the number of sanctuary communities in Wisconsin. Roth said such communities are a danger to the public because illegal immigrants who commit crimes there are able to repeat their offenses instead of being dealt with by immigration officials. Roth cited a recent incident in New York City, where a woman was attacked and raped by five men, three of whom were illegal immigrants with criminal records. Roth said if the police had known the men were illegal immigrants, these crimes would never have happened. "Because New York is a sanctuary city where they do not allow law enforcement to ascertain this information, these men were released to go and commit these crimes again," Roth said. But the government may be creating more safety problems than it’s solving, Gillis said. As of April 1, illegal immigrants in Wisconsin have no access to state-issued identification, leaving a potentially large security hole. "The last thing [you want to do] to secure the citizens and secure a society … is make people so they can’t be identified," Gillis said. Roth stressed that, if passed, the bill would only maintain a status quo in which law enforcement have the choice to ask for immigration status in the interest of safety. "This is meant to allow law enforcement to do their jobs," Roth said. "We just want to make sure that they're not going into any situation or circumstance where their hands are tied." But Gillis said illegal immigrants are unfairly oppressed and forced into "the shadows" by a society that needs them. "We don’t have the papers, but we are doing what the economy wants us to do, which is work in this country," Gillis said. Alfonso Morales, social sciences professor at the University of Wisconsin, dismissed the law. He said if it passed, it would not have any practical consequences. "I’m not sure how this could be enforced if it became law," he said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald. "This is largely a symbolic act." Roth said much work remains to be done on the bill before any action is taken.