Colorado Dems kill 2nd Arizona-style immigration bill
DENVER – Colorado Democrats struck down a proposal Wednesday that would have allowed law enforcement to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally, the second blow this week to a GOP attempt to imitate the strict approach on illegal immigration found in a controversial Arizona law.Opponents of the bill said the proposal would trigger costly court battles challenging the constitutionality of the legislation and trigger racial profiling.”It is a license for an individual to arrest somebody without a warrant,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Bacon.The sponsor of Senate Bill 54, Republican Sen. Kent Lambert, said his bill would simply give law enforcement the authority to enforce current laws and disagreed with criticism would lead to racial profiling.”This is not a racial profiling authorization. It’s an authorization to enforce current laws,” Lambert said.The State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee killed Lambert’s bill on a 3-2 party-line vote. Lambert said before the hearing that because of the Democrats advantage, his bill’s chances were not good, saying, “it’s clear what Democrats are doing by assigning bills to State Affairs committee.”Another bill heard in the same committee Wednesday, Senate Bill 129, would require nongovernmental state employers to use the federal E-Verify program to confirm a worker’s legal status. It also died on a party-line vote.Senate Democrats warned Republicans that they would have a difficult time succeeding with their immigration enforcement proposals. Democrats have a 20-15 advantage in the Senate and get to choose in which committees are heard.”We have a huge immigration problem in this country,” said Democratic Sen. Rollie Heath, moments before voting to indefinitely postpone Lambert’s bill. “The irony is we’re all immigrants.”Lambert’s bill is one of several Republican proposals this session that target illegal immigration. So far, the GOP has come up short. A House bill that mimicked Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration was killed Monday at the request of its sponsor, Republican Rep. Randy Baumgardner. He said he decided to back off his bill out of concern that taxpayers would be burdened with the cost of court battles challenging the constitutionality of his proposal.Baumgardner’s bill would have also allowed law enforcement to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally and it would have required immigrants to have their documents with them.Opponents of Lambert’s bill included the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Colorado League of Women Voters. Avon Police Chief Robert Ticer, who spoke on behalf of the police chiefs, said the bill would compromise the trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities and hinder cooperation while investigating crimes.John Brick, with the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, spoke in support of the bill.”I don’t think it’s a racial bill. I think it’s a law and order bill,” he said.But most of the people and groups testifying said they worried the bill would be harmful and hurt local economies if there are numerous boycotts to visit Colorado, which is what happened in Arizona after Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state’s divisive immigration law. Several provisions of that legislation are on hold while it is challenged in court.Democrats were concerned the same legal fights would happen in Colorado with Lambert’s bill.”I find this really problematic,” Bacon said. “Are you going to ask everybody on the street, ‘Are you here legally or not?’ Or are you going to look at someone who you think may be not like the rest of us and ask them?”
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