Colorado is Officially a Sanctuary State
By Colton R. Overcash | May 30, 2019
After weeks of uncertainty, Colorado is now a sanctuary state, thanks to recent actions taken by Governor Jared Polis (D). On May 28, Governor Polis signed into law House Bill (HB) 1124, after putting up a months-long fight against the bill’s original language. It will take effect on August 2.
Under the new law, state and local law enforcement will be prohibited from honoring immigration detainers, or requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold a criminal alien already in custody for up to 48 hours, unless they’re accompanied by a judicial warrant (which is not something federal law provides for, meaning in practice the new state law forbids ever honoring them). It could also make it impossible for law enforcement officials to cooperate with ICE under federal immigration enforcement cooperation initiatives like the 287(g) program or the new Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program.
Additionally, probation officers will be restricted from sharing information with ICE about illegal aliens they supervise, including information about release dates, court dates or their place of residence. Law enforcement officials will even be required to provide an “advisement of rights” to suspected illegal aliens before they’re released or prior to any interviews with ICE.
Originally, the bill would’ve denied ICE access to local jails altogether and completely prevented local governments from using tax dollars to enforce federal immigration laws, similar to sweepingly-broad sanctuary laws in Oregon and Illinois. However, those provisions were removed by lawmakers to satisfy concerns raised by Gov. Polis after he threatened to veto the bill.
The open-borders lobby is already praising the governor for “keeping his promise” after he signed the bill, despite criticizing him just days ago. Raquel Lane Arellano with the Colorado Immigrants Right Coalition, said the bill would make illegal aliens “feel safe” and afford them the same protections as American citizens. “People are going to have the same constitutional rights regardless of their immigration status, and that’s huge,” Arellano said. “We need to make sure people feel safe here.”
Not everyone was pleased about the news. ICE released a statement the day after the signing calling the new law “dangerous” and suggesting it would put innocent lives at risk: “By signing Colorado’s HB 1124, the state has codified a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s lawful immigration system, protects serious criminal alien offenders, and undermines public safety.”
The announcement follows other actions Polis has taken on immigration legislation this year. Moments before signing the sanctuary state bill into law, Polis approved a measure to increase the number of locations where illegal aliens can obtain driver’s licenses. He also signed a law to make many current drug felonies into misdemeanors. This measure, along with another bill he signed back in March to reduce the maximum sentence for serious misdemeanors by one day, all but ensures that illegal aliens who commit such crimes in Colorado will avoid mandatory detention and deportation as federal law requires.