SUMMERVILLE—An illegal immigration law comes down to risk. Does the town want to risk losing a lawsuit in order to do the job the federal government says only it has the authority to do?

That’s the bottom line, town attorney Mark Stokes told Town Council at its Monday finance committee meeting. The town is probably on good legal grounds requiring employers to ask for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. But requiring leasing agents to do it could incur large legal costs, he said.

“The conservative approach would be to wait and see what happens in other (legal) cases,” he said.

Councilman Walter Bailey, also an attorney and former First Circuit solicitor, is pushing the ordinance that would force renters and employers to document the legal status of the people they hire or to whom they rent apartments or houses. He didn’t agree.

“The easiest thing to do would be nothing,” Bailey said. “I think sometimes you have to step up and take the risk. This is an opportunity to get out in front of a really hot issue” important to people across the country, he said.

That’s the quandary where Council finds itself headed into a Wednesday meeting and first reading vote on the controversial law.

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.