Baumgardner introduces immigration bill
Lawmaker said he tried to learn from Arizona measure
January 25, 2011
Denver — Colorado Republicans have imported more of the Arizona immigration law into the Legislature, including parts that a federal judge already has struck down in Arizona.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said Colorado Republicans tried to learn from Arizona's experience to craft a bill that can pass the Legislature and stand up in court.
His House Bill 1170, introduced Friday, would direct local police to try to determine whether a person entered the country illegally, require immigrants to carry their alien-registration documents and make it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or apply for a job in Colorado. Baumgardner represents House District 57, which includes Routt County.
The language is nearly identical to parts of the Arizona bill that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked in July, saying they pre-empted federal law. The state has appealed Bolton's ruling in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and several advocacy groups.
Baumgardner took a trip to Arizona in 2010 to check out the state's law, which drew praise and condemnation
Colorado Republicans broke the Arizona law into several sections, of which Baumgardner's bill is the largest.
Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, introduced a short Senate bill that allows police to stop people they suspect are illegal immigrants. Federal courts blocked that part of the law, as well.
Baumgardner said he took pains with his bill to respect the federal government's jurisdiction.
"We took a 27-page bill (from Arizona). It's down to 15," Baumgardner said. "We're not trying to tell the federal government how to do their job."
But several parts of his bill copy sections that the Arizona judge blocked.
Its first hearing is scheduled tentatively for Feb. 14 in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, where Baumgardner is the vice chairman. Baumgardner said he did not ask Speaker of the House Frank McNulty to send the bill to the agriculture committee.
Other parts of the Arizona law passed their first tests in court. Like Arizona's law, Baumgardner's bill would forbid cities and counties from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws. It also would make it a crime to block traffic while hiring day laborers on the street. And the bill would allow police to seize the cars of people caught transporting illegal immigrants.
Baumgardner added new fines on employers that are not part of the Arizona law. Employers who make a "good faith effort" to hire only legal workers would not be subject to fines if they are caught with illegal workers. But if they violate the law, they could be fined up to $25,000 per worker.
"We're asking all the businesses in the state of Colorado to play by the same rules when they hire," Baumgardner said.
Democrats will work with Republicans on the bill, but they reject most of the Arizona law, said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo.
"We don't need to go to Arizona to learn how to legislate in Colorado," Pace said.