Protesters at the University of Colorado's Auraria campus in November 2016.
Protesters at the University of Colorado's Auraria campus in November 2016.
Facebook photo courtesy of Elizabeth Renee Fajardo

Colorado Bill Would Impose Harsh Sanctions on Sanctuary Cities

At 2 p.m. today, February 22, immigrant-rights activists from the American Friends Service Committee, Mojados Unidos, the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law and other groups will gather at the State Capitol to decry a bill that they consider one of the most anti-immigrant in a decade.

Introduced by Representative Dave Williams, a Republican from Colorado Springs, HB17-1134 goes after sanctuary cities, and would punish elected officials who adopt laws that would in any way impede federal immigration enforcement. The so-called "Colorado Politician Accountability Act" would allow victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants living in sanctuary cities to sue the jurisdictions for damages. The bill is a response to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in late January that could potentially strip sanctuary cities of federal funds.

The controversial bill has propelled Williams into the national spotlight. "If these politicians create the environment, then they need to own it," Williams said on FoxNews's Tucker Carlson Tonight. "They need to have skin in the game.

"This is nothing more than a bunch of liberals who are getting together to advance an unlawful agenda to endanger the lives of the very people they're supposed to be serving," he continued.

The bill, which is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled House, would also require local law enforcement agencies to turn in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement anyone who might be undocumented that they encounter "while enforcing or conducting an official investigation into a violation of any law of this state." Immigrant-rights groups argue that this is discriminatory, and some elected officials in the state, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, flat-out oppose the proposal. “We will not become immigration law enforcement officers in this city," Hancock said at a community forum in February.

Local jurisdictions would have to detail their compliance with the law in an annual report submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Safety; non-compliant jurisdictions could lose state money.

The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee will hear HB17-1134 at 1:30 p.m. today.

Update: The committee voted down the bill.

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