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Colorado lawmakers consider bill to limit local enforcement of immigration laws

Posted: 1:34 PM, Apr 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-12 15:34:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – A bill currently under consideration by the Colorado General Assembly seeks to prevent local governments and local law enforcement from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

HB19-1124  – Protect Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach – is sponsored by Representative Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams) and Representative Susan Lontine (D-Denver, Jefferson) .

As of April 12, the bill is up for a first vote in the House. A bill must pass three votes before heading to the Senate for consideration, and then to the governor’s desk.

LINKS:  Progress of HB19-1124 / Bill Text

WHAT THE BILL SEEKS TO PROHIBIT

The bill would prohibit government employees from honoring immigration detainer requests or holding someone in jail for immigration authorities if they are already eligible for release.

This includes a person who is no longer facing criminal charges, has served all of their sentence(s), has posted bond, was referred to pretrial diversion or is otherwise eligible for release under state or municipal law.

Furthermore, law enforcement cannot – without a federal warrant or writ – make an arrest or detain someone based on a federal immigration violation, nor can they pass on information about someone’s immigration status to federal authorities.

The bill states, “Requests for civil immigration detainers are not warrants under Colorado law…  None of the civil immigration detainer requests received from the federal immigration authorities are reviewed, approved, or signed by a judge as required by Colorado law. The continued detention of an inmate at the request of federal immigration authorities beyond when he or she would otherwise be released constitutes a warrantless arrest, which is unconstitutional.”

In regard to someone who is already in custody, local authorities would not be allowed to grant federal immigration authorities access to a jail, prison or detention center beyond what is accessible by the public unless they have a warrant or writ from a federal judge.   This includes any investigative interviews or for immigration purposes. The limitations would also apply to probation offices.

State and local government agencies would not be allowed to enter into agreements or contracts with federal authorities that “would require an employee to directly or indirectly assist in the enforcement of civil immigration laws..”, more specifically a 287g agreement.  Earlier this year, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office entered into such an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help determine whether criminals brought into the jail are in the country legally.

Read more:  Teller County Sheriff explains ICE agreement for jail

The bill states, “Colorado law expressly limits the power of sheriffs to enforcing criminal law, making arrests for violations of criminal law, and housing prisoners for violations of criminal law.”

WHAT THE BILL DOES NOT PROHIBIT

Local law enforcement would still be allowed to participate in the execution of search warrants if an order was issued by a state or federal judge.

It would also not prohibit law enforcement from entering into or maintaining agreements with the federal government to transport prisoners held for criminal violations, or from engaging in the investigation and enforcement of local, state and federal criminal laws.

Federal immigration authorities would be allowed to conduct telephone or video interviews with detainees or prisoners who are advised of their right to remain silent, right to speak to an attorney, and that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE IMPACTS ON COLORADO GOVERNMENT?

According to an analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Council Staff , if the bill becomes law “it increases state and local government workload on an ongoing basis.”

The Department of Corrections would need to facilitate phone or video conversations between inmates and federal immigration authorities due to a ban on in-jail visits. However, this is not expected to require an increase in funding for the DOC.

The Judicial Department would be impacted within the Division of Probation Services in the Judicial Department as new policies and procedures would need to be developed to determine whether or not someone was deported without contacting federal immigration authorities. The department would also need to remove immigration enforcement officials’ access to Colorado records. There is no expectation of increased costs to the department.

The impact on local government would include the need for new policies and procedures. Cities and counties may see a decrease in revenue from federal agreements with local law enforcement.


If you would like to learn more about  How a Bill Becomes Law in Colorado How to Place an Initiative on the Statewide Ballot , see past sessions, or watch a live session, visit the  Colorado Channel on YouTube .

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