Democrats on Wednesday advanced a measure aimed at preventing the federal government from rounding up minorities in the wake of a Trump presidency.
Much of the more than three-hour debate on Wednesday revolved around whether House Bill 1230 should be named after former Gov. Ralph Carr, who fought the use of internment camps for Japanese Americans.
The bill received an initial vote. It must still face a final vote in the House before moving to the Republican-controlled Senate, where the bill faces likely death.
Republicans objected to using Carr’s name, pointing out that the former governor’s legacy involved defending citizens, not undocumented immigrants.
The bill would prohibit the state from assisting the federal government with collecting data on minorities that could be used in identifying people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation. It also would prohibit the state from physically assisting with any roundup.
“This covers more than American citizens; this actually muddies the legacy of Ralph Carr,” said Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton.
Republicans and Democrats proceeded to fight over which Carr family members support the proposed Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act.
Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who is sponsoring the bill, said he has support from one Carr family member, while Republicans claimed that several other Carr family members oppose using the former governor’s name.
Republicans pushed a series of failed amendments that would have clarified that the protections under the bill would only extend to citizens.
Instead of protecting non-citizens, Republicans proposed shielding gun owners by prohibiting the creation of a gun registry.
Salazar made it clear that Republicans were missing the point, especially when it came to protecting minorities.
“What this amendment does here is it says that our Muslim brothers and sisters that are residents of the state of Colorado won’t receive protection under this bill,” Salazar said, arguing that Republicans would have violated the 14th Amendment, which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law.
“It says here that other people who don’t have citizenship status … don’t have protection under this bill,” Salazar said of the GOP effort.
The bill comes as an uptick in vandalism has been reported at Jewish cemeteries across the country. And a high-profile case in Kansas caught the nation’s attention after a man allegedly opened fire on two Indians just after shouting, “Get out of my country.”
Fears have grown after Trump and his advisers refused to rule out use of a national registry of immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries.
One prominent Trump supporter said in November shortly after the election that mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.
Trump himself issued controversial executive orders requiring a crackdown on illegal immigration and banning travel from some Muslim-majority nations. There was even talk of using the National Guard to roundup undocumented immigrants, though the Trump administration has downplayed those concerns.
Still, Colorado Republicans said Democrats were headed in the wrong direction.
“What we’re experiencing right now is a great conflation of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the rights and responsibilities of residents,” said Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.
Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, appeared stunned that Republicans fought extending protections to all people.
“The reason that we the United States of America is a beacon to the entire world for our rights is because our rights don’t attach to our citizens; don’t just attach to our lawful residents,” Pabon said. “The rights of a person in the United States apply to everyone.”