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Representative Withdraws “AZ Copycat” Bill in Colorado House

Posted: 02/14/2011 05:42:26 PM MST

Updated: 02/14/2011 06:14:31 PM MST

The sponsor of a bill requiring Colorado to enact an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration withdrew it from consideration today, while a bill offering incentives for local governments to participate in Federal immigration enforcement passed committee.

Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, killed his House Bill 1107 over what he said were concerns about the costs of fighting off legal attacks on the bill’s constitutionality.

The bill, described by critics as a copycat of controversial Arizona Senate Bill 1070, would have required all local police to attempt to determine whether a person being questioned was in the country illegally. The bill also would have criminalized acts such as stopping to hire an illegal street worker or knowingly concealing an illegal alien.

Baumgardner said he did not know what the Senate might have done with the bill, but said he was confident it would have passed the House. It would have been fiscally irresponsible to proceed with the bill, Baumgardner said.

“With the economy the way it is, I didn’t feel it was right to burden the people of Colorado,” said Baumgardner.

House Bill 1140, sponsored by Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, passed out of committee on a 7-4 vote. Balmer’s bill offers local governments an incentive to participate in the Secure Communities Initiative. Secure Communities, a program of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, creates a national fingerprint database which allows all persons arrested and booked into a jail to be evaluated against Department of Homeland Security record.

Former Gov. Bill Ritter approved Colorado’s participation in the program Jan. 4.

HB 1140 would withhold certain grant and tax money, such as cigarette tax revenue, from any local government that chooses not to participate in the Initiative. Participating governments across the state would then have access to that extra money.

“I’m trying to give them both a carrot and a stick,” Balmer said.

Current Federal law mandates that Colorado participate in the Initiative by 2013, Balmer said.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Hans Meyer Policy Director Hans Meyer opposed Balmer’s bill, calling it “an immigration dragnet.” Local governments should make the call on how to police themselves, Meyer said.

HB 1140 next needs approval from the appropriations committee.

Kyle Glazier: 303-954-1638 or kglazier@denverpost.com

See more here: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_17386974

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