Colorado Is Poised to Become a Sanctuary State
By Colton R. Overcash | May 9, 2019
Hours before they were scheduled to adjourn, the Colorado General Assembly rammed through a dangerous sanctuary bill that is likely to become law in coming weeks.
On May 3, the Colorado State Senate passed House Bill (HB) 1124 on a mostly party-line vote, with twenty Democrats approving and fifteen Republicans opposed. Only one Republican, Senator Vicki Marbles (R-Fort Collins), sided with the Democrats to pass the bill. After the vote was recorded, she decided to change her vote and joined the other Republicans to oppose it.
The upper chamber’s vote contrasts with the one in the Colorado House of Representatives, which approved the measure just a week earlier. There, four Democrats joined all the Republicans in an unsuccessful bid to defeat the bill.
Now that the bill has passed the legislature, it must be transmitted to Governor Jared Polis (D). Under the Colorado Constitution, once the governor receives it, he will have until June 3 (30 days after adjournment) to sign or veto it, or it will become law without his signature.
If HB 1124 is enacted, state and local law enforcement will be prohibited from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in many situations. For starters, probation officers will no longer be allowed to share information with ICE about detainees. State and local law enforcement will also be required to ignore detainers unless they’re accompanied by a judicial warrant (which is not something federal law provides for, so in practice they will not be honored). They will even be required to provide an “advisement of rights” to suspected illegal aliens prior to any interviews with ICE.
An earlier version of the bill would’ve denied ICE access to local jails and completely prevented local governments from using tax dollars to enforce federal immigration laws, similar to sweepingly-broad sanctuary laws in Illinois and Oregon. However, that language was changed after Governor Polis expressed concerns with the bill.
While HB 1124 was under consideration in the House, Gov. Polis published an administrative memo outlining his concerns and made recommendations to amend the bill. He also spoke openly about his reservations to the press, which seems to have put enough pressure on lawmakers to accede to his demands.
In an interview, Polis said that while police shouldn’t be forced to help ICE, they shouldn’t be obstructed from working with the agency either. “They’re a legitimate law enforcement agency, and they have a critical role in preventing human trafficking and smuggling, and we look forward to having a strong relationship with ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies,” he said.
“We’re not about to tell local law enforcement what their relationships with other law enforcement agencies should be,” he added.
The Governor’s sentiments were also shared by some in the law enforcement community. Michael Violette, the executive director of the state Fraternal Order of Police, suggested that the proposal would be “dangerous” for local communities and would put their safety at risk.
“We can’t support any policy that potentially would allow the release of criminals who reside in this country illegally and face deportation,” he said. “Our organization isn’t opposing this because we have an issue with immigrants coming into this country. Our primary responsibility is for the safety of our citizens. There’s a potential to send these people out of the country instead of our communities. This proposal impedes that.”
Governor Polis hasn’t been heard from publicly on the latest version of the bill. Even though it was narrowed to address his concerns, it’s still possible he could veto it.