Ruling Democrats at the Legislature are once again displaying their double standard toward Colorado’s local governments — as well as their disregard for our nation’s borders.
State lawmakers pass laws encouraging cities or counties to trample Coloradans’ rights with policies such as rent control or gun control.
But local governments seeking to ensure public safety and security can expect to be undermined by those same lawmakers — who don’t think much of law and order. Like when the Legislature in 2019 decriminalized possession of fentanyl and other hard drugs.
It deprived local law enforcement of an important tool for busting pushers who are career criminals — and forced communities to bear the brunt of the state’s crime wave. Or, when lawmakers in 2020 took qualified immunity away from local law officers, exposing them to individual lawsuits anytime someone claimed a cop violated their rights.
The legislative majority’s contempt for law enforcement — and willingness to flout local control — applies to immigration, as well.
In 2019, the Legislature barred state law enforcement officers from arresting or detaining people on federal immigration charges. The abrupt policy shift subverted federal efforts to rein in illegal immigration.
It also exposed Colorado’s communities to greater risk from undocumented immigrants who also might have been suspects in local crimes or facing warrants on crimes they might have committed elsewhere.
Now, the Legislature is proposing to forbid local law enforcement agencies and jails from contracting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to house people suspected of civil immigration violations.
Some county jails confine people who are detained by immigration authorities pending deportation hearings and decisions.
Even if the detainees aren’t facing criminal charges in Colorado, they might have been picked up by authorities on suspicion of criminal activity in the state or are suspected of crimes in another state or country. The federal government pays local law enforcement for its services under the arrangement, but a bigger benefit is the enhanced security it provides the entire state.
House Bill 23-1100 — driven by the Democratic Party’s prevailing dogma that secure borders and regulated immigration are somehow insensitive — would end all that. It amounts to another attempt to obstruct federal justice and monkey-wrench local law and order.
The bill, which passed the state House of Representatives on Monday and now heads to the Senate, creates another incentive for those who enter the country illegally to regard Colorado as a destination.
The recent wave of asylum-seekers swamping the Denver area is a potent reminder of Colorado’s magnet status, as minority Republicans — who all opposed the measure and were joined by four Democrats — pointed out during House debate on the measure.
“As we’ve seen just recently here in Denver, it’s costing millions of dollars to be able to care for asylum-seekers that came to our state,” said Rep. Gabe Evans, R-Fort Lupton.
“What is the impact that has on the rest of our community? What is the impact that has on our resources, on our taxpayer dollars, on our first responders, on our hospitals? We know that these systems are already stretched thin.”
HB 1100 isn’t just an affront to local law enforcement and local control in Colorado; it’s also another attempt to use state law to sabotage federal enforcement of immigration law.
In other words, it’s a power grab as well as a swipe at national security — all to score points with this most-liberal-ever Legislature’s loyal fans on the political fringe.