Dems seek to bar cooperation with feds
In its most forceful action yet aimed at the Trump administration, Colorado House Democrats on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a measure barring state and local governments in Colorado from cooperating with the federal government on any efforts deemed “discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
But they did so over the spirited — and drawn-out — objections of Republicans who offered close to a dozen amendments attempting to change the scope of the bill and make a political point.
The measure is targeted squarely at fears of immigrant roundups and President Donald Trump’s campaign suggestion that the U.S. create a national registry of Muslims.
House Bill 1230 invokes the memory of former Gov. Ralph Carr, famed for his stand against anti-Japanese sentiment in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. HB 1230 would prevent state and local government agencies in Colorado from sharing a variety of information with the federal government, including someone’s race, national origin, immigration status and religion if government officials believe it will be used for an unconstitutional purpose.
“This bill is grounded in humanity,” said state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It says to all Coloradans, it says to all of our communities, we are going to stand up for you against a federal government that wants to terrorize you.”
It also prohibits state and local law enforcement from detaining people for internment camps, or obeying a federal request to hold an immigrant suspected of living in the nation illegally.
The provisions on immigration were met with fierce resistance from Republican lawmakers, who repeatedly tried — and failed — to amend the bill to extend its protections only to citizens or legal residents. In an unusual move, they even tried to change the title of the bill, the “Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act,” which they said misrepresented the former Republican governor’s legacy.
State Rep. Dave Williams, RColorado Springs, at one point called the measure akin to making Colorado a “sanctuary state” that flouts federal immigration laws.
“This bill will cause Colorado to become a safe harbor for dangerous and illegal aliens,” Williams said.
Democrats beat back the amendments, saying the bill didn’t undermine federal immigration laws — it simply put the onus on federal authorities to enforce them.
“This bill says ‘federal government, Mr. President, if you want to enforce federal immigration law, do it yourself,’ ” said state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.
The bill is just the latest example of the striking role reversal that has taken place since Trump took office, with Democrats championing states’ rights, and Republicans left defending federal authority.
Earlier in the session, House Democrats passed a resolution urging the repeal of Trump’s initial travel ban, which was later blocked by the courts and replaced by a revised order. House Republicans, meanwhile, offered a measure pushing back against so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t assist with federal immigration enforcement.
Republicans on Wednesday also tried to expand the measure to protect Coloradans from other activities they consider federal overreach — including gun and marijuana registries, public school testing requirements and livestock grazing rights on public lands — but no amendment was adopted.
Many were ruled nongermane to the bill and weren’t put to a vote.
If it receives final passage from the House as expected, the measure would head to the Republican-controlled Senate where it’s unlikely to pass without significant changes.
Other states and cities have debated similar measures. San Francisco this week became the first to pass a pre-emptive law prohibiting local cooperation in the creation of a religious registry, CBS reported.
Trump hasn’t clearly articulated a position on creating a Muslim registry since he took office, although he appeared to reaffirm support for one in December. But Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, has said more recently that the administration does not support doing so.