Immigration bill akin to Arizona’s in Colorado Senate

Also, legislator from Western Slope plans enforcement version in House

DENVER — An Arizona-style, illegal-immigration bill was introduced into the Colorado Senate on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a second measure aimed at enforcing the laws the state already has on illegal immigration is expected to be introduced into the House later today.

Like the controversial Arizona law, Senate Bill 54 would allow any law enforcement officer in the state to stop anyone anywhere to check if they are in Colorado legally.

The three-page bill, introduced by Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, requires police to have probable cause to do so, but it doesn’t attempt to define what that means.

While the measure is expected to have a tough time in the Democrat-controlled Senate, Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, is hopeful his House bill would do virtually the same thing with less controversy.

Colorado already has a law that requires police to check on the residency status of anyone they arrest for other suspected crimes and report illegal immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The state also has a law that allows, but doesn’t require, businesses to check on the residency status of people they hire. Baumgardner’s bill, which has yet to be issued a number, would make that mandatory.

Under it, businesses that discover a new employee has provided false residency documents must report that information to police. Once they know someone is illegal, they would pay a hefty fine if they continue to employ them.

“If you knowingly hire an illegal, it’s a $500 a day fine per employee,” Baumgardner said. “That money goes into a fund and would be directed at local law enforcement agencies.”

Money from the fines would go into a special fund to pay whatever expenses a police or sheriff’s department spends enforcing his proposed law.

The bill doesn’t change the law requiring police to check on the legal status of those they arrest, he said.

A third immigration-related bill was introduced last week that requires Colorado voters to show proof of citizenship to register to vote. Acceptable identification to do that includes a U.S. passport or birth certificate.

That measure, SB18, is to be heard in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee next week.


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