Month: July 2011

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Colorado General Assembly 2011 Session Immigration Legislative Summary

The 2011 session of the Colorado General Assembly drew to a close in early May after months of tough decisions for lawmakers. The session saw a host of immigration bills and resolutions. Certain anti-immigrant bills would have negatively impacted individuals who are lawfully present in the country or targeted marginalized migrant populations in Colorado. The constitutionality of other bills was questionable in the larger context of federal immigration law, and some bills would have hiked state and local spending without generating tangible benefits to local communities. Debate on these bills was emotional and lengthy. Representatives from agriculture, tourism, hotel, lodging, and restaurant industries spoke out in opposition to some of the proposed legislation.

Almost all immigration-related bills and resolutions this session – including provisions that would have authorized police to require proof of citizenship or lawful presence upon a vehicle stop, increased bond requirements for arrested individuals who were suspected of being undocumented, and complicated voter registration – were summarily rejected by the Legislature.

HB11-1003: Define ID for Voting
This bill would have required a government- issued photo ID for election-related purposes. It was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

HB11-1088: Bond for Persons Illegally Present
HB 1088 would have increased disincentives for bail bondsmen to provide bail to arrested people who might be undocumented, and would have required advising the court and district attorney before bail being set if there were reasonable grounds for believing the defendant might be undocumented. The bill was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

HB11-1107: State Illegal Immigration Enforcement
An omnibus immigration bill, HB11-1107 echoed much of the Arizona approach to immigration issues in employment and law enforcement found in Arizona SB-1070. One provision authorized police to contact anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant, while another required lawful immigrants to carry their papers on them at all times. The bill was postponed indefinitely in the House.

HB11-1140: Strengthening Illegal Alien Laws
HB11-1140 would have sanctioned local governments that did not participate in the Secure Communities program. Postponed indefinitely in the Senate

HB11-1252: Proof of Citizenship for Voter Registration
This provision would have directed the Secretary of State to compare public databases and determine if there was evidence indicating registered voters were not citizens. Voters notified by the Secretary of State that there was evidence indicating they were not citizens would be obliged to prove citizenship. The bill was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

HB11-1309: Prevent Unlawful Employment & Human Smuggling
Another omnibus immigration bill addressing employment and law enforcement issues, HB11-1309 was postponed indefinitely in the Senate. Among its objectives, HB11-1309 sought to criminalize stopping and blocking traffic to hire and pick up passengers for work at a different location, and would have made any record related to a person’s immigration status admissible in a court without further foundation or testimony from a custodian of records.

SB11-054 Authority to Arrest Unlawful Aliens
SB11-054 would have authorized police officers to make arrests without a warrant if the officer had probable cause to believe that the individual was in violation of certain immigration provisions. It was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

SCR11-002 Voter Registration Proof of Citizenship
This Senate Concurrent Resolution would have referred to the voters a state constitutional amendment providing the same citizenship investigation of registered voters as set out in HB11-1252, above. The resolution was postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

SCR11-003 Elected Official Proof of Citizenship
SCR11-003 would have referred to the voters a state constitutional amendment providing that anyone elected to public office in the state of Colorado must provide proof of citizenship along with the oath of office. Postponed indefinitely in the Senate.

SCR11-004 Require Employers Use E-verify
This bill proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would have required all private employers in the state to use the federal E-verify System for establishing eligibility for employment and set out significant sanctions for employers found in violation. Postponed indefinitely in the Senate

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First-Ever Senate Hearing on the DREAM Act

In an important step forward, the Senate held its first-ever hearing on the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act allows many young immigrants, who have grown up in the United States, the opportunity to become permanent residents of this country. The hearing highlighted the fact that many of these individuals are top students and aspire to be professionals and entrepreneurs in this country as well as serving America by enlisting in the military. The lack of a path to permanent residence for these individuals puts them in a “dead-end” position in the United States. As a country of immigrants, we need to empower these individuals to become full-contributing members of our society. Hopefully, the hearing will have a positive impact on the passage of this important legislation.

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