Colorado pols take stance on Arizona law against aliens

Protesters gather at the Arizona Capitol before the signing of immigration bill SB1070 by Gov. Jan Brewer Friday, April 23, 2010, in Phoenix.

An Arizona law aimed at curbing illegal immigration is the predictable result of a failure of the federal government to take on the job, Republicans and Democrats agreed Tuesday.

That’s as far as agreement went, though.

“When a state like Arizona takes matters into its own hands like it has with the recently enacted state law, it just underlines the need for Congress to address immigration reform” in a rational and bipartisan way, said U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo.

Scott Tipton, one of the two Republicans running to replace Salazar, said the federal government should be monitoring the northern border and ports on both coasts more closely, as well as the border with Mexico.

“I want to be very cautious,” Tipton said. “I don’t want some dragnet society,” in which people are stopped on pretexts and asked to prove citizenship.

“If the federal government does its job, a lot of this goes away.”

Jane Norton, the Republican hoping to capture the party nomination for the U.S. Senate, called the law “a natural reaction of states trying to solve a problem that the federal government has basically ignored for 30 years.”

She said she would support the rights of states to protect their residents and demand the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

“After all, enforcing the law is an approach that our government in Washington, D.C., has never actually tried,” Norton said.

Passage of the Arizona law “marks a terrifying turn of events, not only for Arizona, but for the United States as a whole,” Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff said.

Sen. Michael Bennet, whom Norton and Romanoff both want to replace, said the Arizona law highlights the need for federal reform.

“Without federal reform, cash-strapped local and state governments are footing the bill for federal inaction, and small businesses reliant on an immigrant workforce face tremendous uncertainty,” Bennet said through a spokesman. “Addressing immigration on a state-by-state basis will only make matters worse. In this case, it undermines local law enforcement and encourages racial profiling. We would all be better off with a more constructive, cohesive, bipartisan approach.”

By comprehensive immigration reform, Romanoff said he means securing borders, enforcing laws against drug running, smuggling and human trafficking, and providing a way that individuals can “enjoy legal status in a society that benefits from their labor.”

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he is concerned that the Arizona law “puts the burden of immigration enforcement on local police and raises significant concerns about racial and ethnic profiling, which is not the American way. Congress needs to take action and address the need for comprehensive reform, including stronger border security.”

Salazar said the way the law would be enforced worries him.

“It should worry all of us when a government agency decides to stop individuals who don’t look ‘right’ and ask for identification papers,” he said.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said he’ll watch to see how the measure plays out for local law enforcement in Arizona.

If the law means that people unable to prove their citizenship would go to jail, there are constitutionality concerns, as well as practical issues.

“Are the jails prepared to do that?” Hilkey said. “What kind of burden are you putting on local governments, i.e, sheriff’s offices?”

The level of proof that people might have to carry on their persons also has his attention, Hilkey said.

“We have a lot of people without valid government IDs here, too,” he said.

Republicans Bob McConnell, who is seeking the nomination to challenge Salazar, and Ken Buck, who is challenging Norton for the GOP nomination for the Senate, didn’t respond immediately for comment Tuesday.


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