Democratic state lawmakers say they will attempt preemptive strikes against a Republican Donald Trump presidency in an effort to block any attempts to profile and segregate blocs of people.
Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, said he will run legislation in the legislative session that kicks off Wednesday that would prohibit state and local governments from aiding and assisting the federal government in trying to establish internment camps and registries for Muslims, undocumented immigrants, or any other group deemed a threat by the administration based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation.
“This bill says if you’re going to do that as a federal government, you’re not going to use state and local resources,” Salazar said. “We’re going to prohibit the federal government and its over-reach in trying to co-opt our state rights and resources.”
Salazar said reports this week erroneously claimed that the legislation he is planning would make Colorado a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants and other groups.
The thrust of Salazar’s bill revolves around comments by Trump that he would ban travel by Muslims into America and also perhaps create a registry. Some have also extrapolated that Trump would use Japanese-American internment camps as a precedent.
While it is unlikely that such a system would ever be established under Trump — already, serious constitutional questions are being raised — Salazar said the state should act now to block assisting with any such effort.
“Was Trump lying?” asked Salazar. “Was he lying about creating registries or tracking people based on their national origin?”
Trump has waffled a bit on the registry and travel ban proposals, at times walking it back but at other times standing firm that it is an avenue he might pursue. He says the goal would be to restrict people from countries harboring terrorists, not enact sweeping bans.
Salazar is also planning legislation that would track hate crimes in Colorado.
“Hate crimes are happening all across the nation as a result of this incoming administration,” Salazar said. “The data will help us track who’s being targeted for hate crimes by whom and where the problems are in the state.”
Salazar, who describes himself as a “Dog House Dem,” has been known to ruffle feathers in the legislature, even within his own party. In the past he’s attempted legislation to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Salazar attempted to compromise on the Columbus Day legislation last year by simply eliminating the holiday rather than replacing it with another. But that effort also failed.
He said he will be back again this year with another effort to eliminate Columbus Day, which would also include language highlighting the protest in the Dakotas at Standing Rock reservation to block the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.
Republican state lawmakers acknowledge that major policy shifts could come from a Trump administration. But they say it likely won’t be as dramatic as some Democrats fear. Changes in policy issues such as health care and federal regulations are more likely than extreme programs like a Muslim registry or travel ban.
“It’s going to affect us somehow, some way,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City. “The significance of that, and what we’re going to have to do to respond to that, we don’t know yet. Whatever happens in D.C., we have our own issues that we have to find a path through.”