Human smuggling bill clears hurdle at Capitol |

Human smuggling bill clears hurdle at Capitol

DENVER ” A proposal to crack down on “coyotes” who transport illegal immigrants for money in Colorado passed a key hurdle Monday as House and Senate negotiators approved a compromise version.

The proposal (Senate Bill 206) now goes back to both chambers for another vote as lawmakers wrap up the session, which formally ends on Wednesday.

Human smuggling is already a crime under federal law, but state law-enforcement agencies and immigration critics say federal authorities haven’t been tough enough on people who transport illegal immigrants in crowded vans and trucks.

The bill targets only smugglers who are paid by their passengers, not the passengers themselves or someone who simply gives an illegal immigrant a lift.

Sponsor Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, said he thinks it’s one of the few areas in illegal immigration where the state can act.

“It gives law enforcement a clear process they can take,” he said.

House and Senate negotiators made a minor change in the bill Monday to allow prosecution of smugglers in any one of the counties in which their passengers are found.

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