Dems seek to bar co­op­er­a­tion with feds

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Brian Ea­son Brian Ea­son: 303-954-3051, bri­anea­son@den­ver­post.com

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.

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