David Stafford Johnson: Colo., Ariz. differences on immigration
The recent statements by Gov. Ritter and Mayor Hickenlooper concerning the Arizona Immigration Law are disingenuous, as their statements fly in the face of the very campaign platform upon which Gov. Ritter ran in 2006. In “The Colorado Promise,” Gov. Ritter, as did Gov. Brewer of Arizona, criticized Washington for not living up to its responsibilities in securing and managing the border. Ritter said “Washington has failed to secure our borders, prosecute companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers and punish human smugglers and traffickers.” Ritter called these “unacceptable failures.” Brewer, in signing the Arizona Immigration Law, similarly faulted Washington, and indicated the State of Arizona had very little choice given those failures and the fact that from a public safety perspective, Arizona had to take matters in their own hands.
All of us, conservative and liberal (or in-between) believe in responsible and practical immigration reform. I truly believe most of us want secure borders, a fair and achievable path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and enforcement of federal laws that penalize businesses which hire illegal immigrants. Even Gov. Ritter said “… we need long-term solutions that hold illegal immigrants accountable by requiring them to pay back taxes and fines and to begin the formal citizenship process.” But as Ritter emphasized, “Everyone needs to play by the same set of rules.” Ritter supported existing federal laws that prohibit welfare benefits for undocumented immigrants, and stated that illegal immigrants not be able to obtain driver’s licenses. He stated his support for tougher enforcement along the border and swift prosecution of employers who hired undocumented workers. He lamented the fact, however, that often, even though local law enforcement officials would ask INS or ICE agents to retrieve convicted illegal immigrant felons for deportation, they were often ignored and were forced to release these criminals back onto the streets. Gov. Brewer and the Ariz. Legislature, similarly frustrated, enacted a law that would allow local enforcement officials to retain these convicted felons, and not see them released to the streets. Ritter (and Mayor Hickenlooper) now criticize Brewer and the State of Arizona from accomplishing what they themselves advocated just four years ago,
Ritter, in “The Colorado Promise” said as a state “… we must demand accountability from Washington, and we must force congress and the president to live up to their responsibilities and reimburse the states for the enforcement and social service tabs we are paying because of their failures.” I am sure Gov. Brewer would welcome Gov. Ritter and Mayor Hickenlooper’s support in her efforts to do for Arizona what Ritter promised to do for Colorado.
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