Idaho legislators discuss undocumented workers, search and seizure bills that may surface in 2024

Potential legislation would expand law enforcement search powers for people on probation, parole and bill that would restrict undocumented workers

By: - August 24, 2023 5:45 pm
Idaho Legislature Committee on Federalism

Chris Russo, right, the president of Texans for Strong Borders, speaks to the Idaho Legislature’s Committee on Federalism Aug. 24 in Boise. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)

Some Idaho Republican legislators and law enforcement officers on Thursday discussed potential legislation to curb employment of undocumented workers and to increase law enforcement’s search and seizure powers.

The discussions came during a public meeting of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Committee on Federalism on Thursday at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. 

The committee of 10 legislators devoted the morning session to a series of pre scheduled panel discussions that featured GOP legislators, law enforcement officers and advocates for restricting immigration policies. 

The committee did not have anyone representing immigrants, refugees, employers or the agriculture industry speak on its panel groups, and the committee did not take public testimony Thursday. 

During the meeting, panelists and legislators discussed several potential bills or changes to Idaho law.


Caldwell chief proposes waiving Fourth Amendment rights for someone on parole, probation

Caldwell Police Chief Rex Ingram, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, asked legislators to grant a waiver of Fourth Amendment rights to allow police to search someone on parole or probation.

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“The Fourth Amendment is obviously what protects the United States citizenry from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement,” Ingram told legislators. “It’s what we cherish in this country and what we all defend in law enforcement. Something in Idaho that needs to be fixed is allowing police officers — not just probation and parole officers —  to have a waiver, meaning we can search someone that’s on active parole or probation with search conditions.” 

Ingram gave an example of if an officer sees someone on parole out of their home early in the morning that they know has parole conditions, the officer cannot stop that person without probable cause.

“That’s wrong. If I know he’s on parole … I want to search him because he probably has a gun on him based on his rap sheet.”

Sheriff advocates to send more Idaho personnel to Southern border

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said the state needs to send more personnel to the U.S. border with Mexico to resist undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

“We do need to assist states like Texas, states like Arizona, states like New Mexico,” Donahue said. “We can and should send troops down, whether it’s National Guard troops or whether it’s state troopers … because it augments as a force multiplier.” 

Reps. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, and Jacyn Gallagher, R-Weiser, shared photos and spoke about their recent trip to the U.S. border with Mexico. Gallagher said they did not use state funding for the trip. 

“My trip was not taxpayer funded,” Gallagher said during the meeting. “I wanted to see it for myself. I was appalled and disgusted with what I saw.”

Idaho senator wants to bring back employer requirement bill

Sen. Phil Hart, R-Kellogg, said he worked on a bill when he previously served in the Idaho House that would have required employers to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system to determine the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S. Hart told the Committee on Federalism he could bring back that bill.

Idaho representative working on fentanyl bill

Rep. Edward “Ted” Hill, R-Eagle, said he is working on a bill he hopes to introduce during the 2024 legislative session that would charge the supplier of fentanyl with murder if the person who obtained fentanyl from them died of an overdose from the drug. 

Committee members did not introduce or vote on any actual bills Thursday, and the Idaho Legislature is not in season. The Committee on Federalism is an interim committee that meets in the offseason, and its discussions and presentations often offer an early look at policy debates and legislation that later come up during legislative sessions.

For example, in recent years, many of the Idaho Legislature’s efforts to push back against federal COVID-19 restrictions and policies and to restrict environmental, social and governance standards, or ESG, were discussed in front of the Committee on Federalism before the actual bills surfaced during a legislative session. 

The Idaho Legislature’s 2024 session is scheduled to begin Jan. 8 at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.


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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.