Colorado Republican lawmakers who want to copy Arizona’s divisive immigration law sent a delegation to Phoenix Tuesday to get pointers on how to proceed.
Colorado is the latest state to send a delegation of lawmakers to Arizona to talk about adopting a law similar to the one that’s being challenged by the federal government and has been denounced by immigrant advocates.
Tennessee and Utah are the other states who have sent lawmakers to Arizona this summer, and Utah has already publicized text of their proposed legislation.
Rep. Kent Lambert said Colorado’s economy is suffering because of illegal immigration, even if the state doesn’t face the same challenges as Arizona and other states along the border.
“We have sort of the backfield problems with employment, jobs, and unemployment and picking up the costs of health care and things like that which seem to fall upon the state of Colorado,” said Lambert, one of 11 members of Colorado’s Republican Study Committee who are meeting with Arizona legislators this week.
Republicans said one of the topics they want to discuss is how Arizona is defending its bill in court.
A federal judge last month delayed the most contentious provisions of Arizona’s law a day before it went into effect, including a section that would require officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally.
But the judge allowed other provisions, including a section that bars local governments from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws. Those jurisdictions are commonly known as “sanctuary cities.”
Last week, Utah Republican Rep. Stephen Sandstrom unveiled a proposed immigration law that would, among other things, require law enforcement to question the immigration status of those pulled over for traffic stops or detained for other crimes. Sandstrom will hold a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday. The Utah Legislature will not be in session until January.
Colorado Republicans would face an uphill battle in passing a law similar Arizona’s because they don’t have a majority in either chamber. The November elections could change that but history has shown that Republicans don’t need to be in charge to pass tough immigration laws in Colorado. Some of the strictest immigration laws Colorado has in its books passed in 2006, during a special session with Democrats in the majority.
One of those laws resembles what Utah is proposing. It requires law enforcement to report to immigration officials anyone they arrest who they suspect to be in the country illegally. However, it is up to Immigration and Customs and Enforcement to determine what to do with suspects reported to them.
Sen. Ted Harvey, who sponsored that Colorado law in 2006, said he doesn’t believe the law has been implemented aggressively. He said Republicans next year are “definitely going to push immigration reform that takes seriously the impact that illegal immigration has on the state budget.”