GOP takes stand

Immigration bills to be heard today

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Call it a day in court for immigration law.

The Old Supreme Court Chambers at the Capitol in Denver likely will be crowded this afternoon as state Republican lawmakers are scheduled to bring 10 immigration bills before the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives.

The bills -- two of which are co-sponsored by Routt County's state representative, Al White of Winter Park -- tighten employment policies and increase law enforcement procedures regarding illegal immigrants in the state.

House Bill 1134, for example, is sponsored by Rep. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs. According to its text, the bill would authorize law enforcement officers throughout Colorado to "identify, process, and, when appropriate, detain a person suspected of an immigration offense when the ... officer encounters the person during routine law-enforcement activity."

White is one of several GOP legislators co-sponsoring the bill.

White is also one of 26 House Republicans co-sponsoring House Bill 133, which would prohibit the state from hiring a service contractor who employs "unauthorized aliens" and would prevent illegal immigrants from "establishing a domicile in Colorado for in-state tuition purposes."

A bill sponsored by House Minority Leader Joe Stengel of Littleton states that all employers have a "duty of care" for any illegal immigrants they hire, and therefore, that employers are liable in civil lawsuits filed as a result of a wrongful action by the immigrants. According to the text of House Bill 1082, that action may "take place within or outside the scope of employment."

Schultheis, an outspoken advocate of tougher immigration laws, is a primary or co-sponsor for five of the 10 bills to be heard today. His House Bill 1090 "requires all employers in the state to apply to participate in the extended federal basic employment verification pilot program" and imposes fines on employers who do not.

Although Schultheis is a member of the committee that will hear the bills, the bills may not have as much success as he would like. All committees in the state House and Senate are led by Democrats, the majority party, and likewise consist of more Democrats than Republicans.

Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, leads the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

During her visit to Steamboat Springs on Saturday, House Majority Leader Alice Madden made her views about the issue clear.

"There's a lot of really bad immigration bills this year," Madden said. "And I can guarantee they'll be dead by midnight on Tuesday."

The Old Supreme Court Chambers is the largest committee venue at the Capitol. Today's hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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