A new law was introduced in the Colorado Senate on January 19th, 2010, days after the MLK Marade through metropolitan Denver. The law is similar to Arizona SB 1070 which requires police officers to detain persons suspected of being undocumented. Supporters say the law is necessary to prevent terrorists. Opponents say it will lead to racial profiling and keep undocumented workers from seeking the assistance of law enforcement. The state of Mississippi is steps ahead of Colorado, having passed an SB 1070 style law in their senate today.
Colorado GOP anti-immigrant task force study session
Like Arizona SB 1070, Colorado Senate Bill 11-054 would allow police officers to arrest persons they suspect of being undocumented, which usually means “of color”. That includes persons who are under a removal order and persons who have failed to register under U.S. 8 U.S.C. SEC. 1301, basically undocumented workers.
The law provides probable cause for arrests. The officer will be protected from false arrests by governmental immunity as long as he can demonstrate his reasonable suspicion. Who can be more suspicious than a person of color? Hispanics say such a low standard of proof will lead to racial profiling.
Worse, the new law, taken together with the Secure Communities agreement signed by past Governor Bill Ritter (D-Co), beckons for abuse. Secure Communities allows police to check the immigration status of arrestees using federal data bases. The temptation to use the suspicion of being undocumented becomes a no brainer when a person stopped in traffic forgets his wallet. Lots of people forget their wallets. Hispanic and Black citizens say they will be the ones arrested.
Colorado introduces anti-immigrant law 2 days after MLK Marade, a blend of the words March and Parade to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For undocumented workers, knowing they cannot confide in local police will prevent them from reporting crimes. Many officers oppose these kinds of laws. A father whose 12 year old daughter is raped will be reticent to report the crime for fear the entire family will face deportation. More likely, the child would be allowed to remain as a witness but the rest of the family deported. Rapist don’t select their victims based upon their immigration status. Sooner or later the perpetrator will find a US citizen victim.
Some Republicans claim undocumented workers represent a terrorist threat.
The series of bills the GOP is introducing to make life impossible for undocumented workers is necessary to make Colorado secure.
Immigrant’s rights activists including the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition (CIRC) promise to fight the law. The Executive Director of CIRC, Julien Ross, responded to the law makers with a press release:
At a time when most Coloradans are concerned about jobs and the economy, it is mind boggling that a handful of Colorado Senators would pursue the same divisive legislation that has cost the state of Arizona millions in lost tourism revenue and wasted taxpayer dollars on endless lawsuit challenges.
Ross said Arizona lost over $253 billion dollars to date, “Not including the tarnished image for business and tourism in Arizona.” Colorado depends upon tourism far more than Arizona.
An estimated 200,000 people have fled Arizona, including many US citizens, because they felt unwelcome. The real estate market in poorer neighborhoods has been devastated. Arizona is cutting services to tax payers including health care in order to pay legal bills to defend SB 1070. Portions of the law were struck down as unconstitutional while other parts are in extended litigation.