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Colorado House resolution demands Trump lift order banning some refugee, immigrant U.S. entry

Author: John Tomasic - January 31, 2017 - Updated: February 1, 2017

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Reps. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, January 31, 2017. The two sponsored Resolution 1013 asking President Donald Trump to lift his executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)
Waiting to speak, Reps. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, January 31, 2017. The two sponsored Resolution 1013 asking President Donald Trump to lift his executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)

In an emotional and at times contentious stretch of speeches that lasted more than an hour Tuesday, Colorado House Democrats passed a resolution asking President Donald Trump to lift the executive order he issued last week that banned entry to the country of refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries and that sparked protests around the country and legal action that resulted in a partial stay of the order issued Saturday evening.

Trump has been defiant in the wake of the action, citing national security and pushing back against objections voiced by members of Congress, more than 200 concerned State Department personnel and foreign leaders around the world. The Colorado’s Resolution 1013, sponsored only by Democrats in both the House and Senate, is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, much less influence Trump’s thinking. But supporters touted it as an important statement for the record on behalf of their constituents.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time and your government when it deserves it,” said Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, one of the prime sponsors of the resolution. He was quoting Mark Twain. “We have an example [in this order] of power being derived from fear. I ask us to reject that.”

Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, another prime sponsor, decried the order as bad governing.

The policy put into effect with the order played an especially controversial part as a stump position in an especially controversial campaign last year and was destined to be even more controversial once it was issued from the White House. That it came with little notice to lawmakers or guidance for cabinet members and immigration officials on the ground virtually ensured its negative reception.

“I happened to be in the airport on Saturday, traveling to Los Angeles,” Michaelson Jenet said. “I watched people, including two of our representatives, speak to the fear and chaos of what was happening. We all want a safe America. We all want a vetting process that keeps out terrorists. But we didn’t have a process. There was no conversation. There was no legislative debate that may have tamed the fear and chaos that ensued.

“I hope that we as a body serve our state better than I feel our nation is being served (by the leaders in Washington),” she said.

Republican lawmakers mostly kept out of the speaker’s well. They partly thought the order was being misrepresented in its effect and its motivation and partly seemed more than ready to move beyond the tumult that has followed each new day of the first week and a half of the Trump presidency and onto more of the consequential legislative work of the state.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said his caucus fully recognized and embraced the fact that the United States is a nation of immigrants. The order was meant to temporarily halt immigration from countries President Obama also had included in a list of potentially dangerous would-be travelers to the States.

He said it wasn’t an attempt to ban Muslims. Countries that lead in the world in immigrant populations were not included on the list. He said, in fact, the order was less a comment on the countries on the list — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen — than it was on the U.S. broken immigration system.

“We have no power to change this. Immigration is the purview of the executive branch,” he said. “We should be talking about problems we were sent here to deal with.”

Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, said he didn’t plan on speaking, but felt compelled to offer context. He talked about the long shadow cast over the country by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“We can’t do anything about this executive order. It’s a federal issue,” he said.

“I hope I’m the only one who lost a relative in the towers on 9/11. It was my cousin. They couldn’t find his body. He ended up in a landfill.

“These are tough issues but let’s not call out each other… We were never more galvanized than we were after 9/11.”

john@coloradostatesman.com

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

John Tomasic is a senior political reporter for The Colorado Statesman covering the Colorado Legislature.