Colo. legislator working on immigration proposal
PUEBLO – A Colorado Republican legislator has taken the first steps toward introducing a bill similar to Arizona’s law cracking down on illegal immigration.
Rep. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs was one of 11 GOP legislators from Colorado who met earlier this month with lawmakers in Arizona on copying that state’s law. He has reserved a bill title for a proposal, which is being reviewed by legislative legal staffers.
Arizona’s law has been denounced by advocates for immigrants and protested in cities across the country. In July, a federal judge delayed the law’s most contentious provisions, including a section requiring officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally.
Lambert said he’s confident Colorado legislators can write a bill that will stand up in court. “If they want to debate constitutionality, there are arguing points on both sides,” he said.
Lambert has said Colorado’s economy is suffering from illegal immigration because of the effects on jobs and health care costs.
Another Colorado lawmaker said he believes the Arizona law would threaten the rights of even U.S. citizens if police mistakenly suspect them of being in the country illegally based on their appearance or speech.
“The 14th Amendment is at stake here,” Democratic Rep. Sal Pace of Pueblo said. “The equal protection clause and the due process clause, in my opinion.”
The Republican plan to mirror Arizona’s law could also prove costly to the state, Pace said.
“They’re pushing a bill that is destined to end up in court, just like the Arizona law has,” Pace said. “We’d see the same thing happen here in Colorado. We need a Colorado solution, not an Arizona solution.”
Colorado Republicans likely would have a tough time passing a law similar to Arizona’s because they don’t have a majority in either chamber of the Legislature, although that could change with the November election. The session starts in January.
However, a Democratic-controlled Legislature passed some of Colorado’s toughest immigration laws in 2006. One of the laws requires officers to report to immigration officials anyone they arrest they suspect to be in the country illegally. Republicans have complained that the laws haven’t been aggressively enforced.
Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com
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