State Representative Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, would like to see Colorado become a more active participant in President Donald Trump's immigration agenda.
To do that, he's proposed a bill that would let the victims of crimes perpetrated by undocumented immigrants sue public officials "responsible for the creation of a sanctuary jurisdiction." Dubbed the "Colorado Politician Accountability Act," Williams' proposal would also make it a class four felony to "render assistance to an illegal alien." (The doctrine of "sovereign immunity," however, makes it tough to sue the government.)
The bill has stirred heated debate, but that's probably all it'll do. House leadership has assigned the bill to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee, otherwise known as the kill committee, where a 6-3 Democratic majority means it's likely dead on arrival.
But that hasn't stopped Williams from making the rounds on cable news to talk up his doomed bill. Republican lawmakers in Ohio, Alaska and Maine apparently like his idea enough to run copycats, so we may see our local representative's anti-sanctuary legislation enacted elsewhere first.
Williams' bill is one of many floated since Trump announced plans to punish so-called "sanctuary cities." The gist is that undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions are now subject to removal. The order also calls on state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the coming deportation campaign — though they are not obligated to enforce federal law. To coerce their cooperation, the order threatens to withhold federal grants from any communities deemed to be "sanctuary cities."
Colorado cities could be a target for these penalties. According to an Immigrant Legal Resource Center map (ilrc.org/local-enforcement-map), only California, Oregon and Vermont have more comprehensive protections for the undocumented than Colorado.
Other state legislators are eager to support, rather than target, immigrants. Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, plan to propose a bill named after Ralph Carr, a former Colorado governor who spoke out against Japanese internment camps during World War II. Though not officially introduced yet, the legislation in its current form would prevent the state, cities, counties and law enforcement agencies from giving information about residents' race, ethnicity, immigration status or religious affiliation to the federal government for "any illegal or unconstitutional purpose" like creating a registry or any kind of internment. (Information related to the program that lets Colorado DREAMers get in-state tuition in the University of Colorado system or the program that helps undocumented immigrants get drivers' licenses could be compromising, for example.)
At a rally for Denver's Muslim community on Saturday, Feb. 4, Salazar, whose name has been floated for the 2018 governor's race, elicited roars from the 1,000-plus crowd by forcefully denouncing "federal overreach" on immigration.