DENVER (AP) — A Colorado requirement that local law enforcement report suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities moved closer Friday to coming off the books. The Democratic House gave preliminary approval to repealing the 2006 law.
Supporters said the Colorado immigration reporting bill isn’t needed anymore because a federal immigration review process has been implemented. Law enforcement groups support the repeal, saying the state requirement is unwieldy and makes immigrant communities afraid of officers.
“This is so important to build trust between our immigrant communities and law enforcement officials,” said Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver.
The immigration reporting requirement has been spottily enforced in part because law enforcement has complained that it forces officers to make a subjective call — often based on race or language skills — on whether someone is in the country illegally. Law enforcement favors a more recent federal immigration policy known as Secure Communities, in which arrested people are fingerprinted, which shares arrestee fingerprints with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
Some Republicans spoke against the repeal. They said federal immigration law could change at any time, so the Colorado backup is needed.
“To say that simply because federal law exists on this we need to repeal it on the state level, goes too far,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.
Others accused ruling Democrats of sending a message that law enforcement doesn’t need to help enforce immigration law. A Douglas County Republican tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to allow people to sue local governments for not enforcing immigration law.
“If a local government is not going to enforce this federal law, then we effectively have no enforcement,” said Rep. Chris Holbert of Parker.
After Holbert’s amendment was defeated, the full House gave the measure preliminary approval on an unrecorded voice vote. One more vote is required before the repeal heads to the Senate.