Colorado governor says he would veto immigration bill |

Colorado governor says he would veto immigration bill

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said Thursday he would veto new laws like the one in Arizona requiring local authorities to question suspected illegal immigrants.

The Democrat said he believes the Arizona law is unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts.

“That is not within the spirit of our law,” Ritter said.

Lawmakers said it is unlikely a bill will be introduced this year because the Colorado Legislature will adjourn in a week and a half.

Ritter, who is not running for re-election this year, weighed in after Republican candidates to replace him said they would approve a law like the one in Arizona signed last week by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer that requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally.

The Arizona law also makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

GOP candidate Dan Maes said Colorado’s conservative voters see this as a states’ rights issue and he believes it’s a top issue for voters in the November election.

“States have the right to take proactive steps to resolve issues they deem priorities and Arizona has chosen to do that with illegal immigration. I applaud them”, Maes said.

Former Rep. Scott McInnis, who also is running in the GOP primary, said he would do something similar if he is elected.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the only Democrat in the race, said while Arizona’s law is troubling, he’s not surprised states are trying to address immigration because Congress has not.

“We need a nonpartisan approach to solve this problem for the entire country and enforceable reform that doesn’t abridge the basic freedom of our citizens,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement.

Ritter defended his handling of issues involving illegal immigrants during his three years in office and said he continues to believe it is primarily an issue for federal authorities.

Ritter turned the issue over to a study committee last year that said millions of undocumented people in the U.S. should be given a path to legal status after the country finds a way to stop illegal immigration.

The University of Denver report argued that legalizing as many of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants as possible could strengthen the economy and national security, but it should come with conditions, such as requiring new immigrants to learn English, pass criminal and medical background checks, and pay any taxes that they owe.

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