Trump immigration orders charge ‘sanctuary’ debate at Capitol

Author: John Tomasic - January 30, 2017 - Updated: January 30, 2017

Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood at a House Education Committee hearing, January 30, 2017. (Photo by John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)
Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood at a House Education Committee hearing, January 30, 2017. (Photo by John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)

State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, said the explosive Trump White House — which has taken even Republican members of Congress and cabinet appointees by surprise in the ten days since inauguration — is affecting the mood at the Capitol in Denver.

“I can say it has changed conversations,” Salazar told The Colorado Statesman on Monday. “My Republican colleagues have been very quiet about what’s happening with this administration.” Salazar added that, on the other hand, he believes at least one of his GOP colleagues seems to be taking cues from Washington. he singled out Rep. Dave Williams, a Republican lawmaker from Colorado Springs.

“I’ve heard Rep. Williams is introducing a bill that would criminalize lawmakers — something to do with holding lawmakers criminally liable for any laws that might protect an undocumented person who caused harm to a Coloradan,” he said. “It’s utterly tone deaf coming from a freshman legislator.”

The Colorado Statesman on Monday reported on a draft version of Williams’s anti-sanctuary legislation, which would create the crime of “rendering assistance to an illegal alien,” a Class 4 felony, according to the draft.

“I think it’s important that we do all we can to uphold the rule of law and ensure all communities, regardless of race or ethnicity, are protected from dangerous policies that are forced on us by radical, out-of-touch politicians who continually sell out to an unlawful agenda that increases the number of criminals, and needless deaths among our fellow citizens,” Williams told The Statesman.

Salazar is a preparing a state’s rights bill meant to guard Colorado residents from government actions that might infringe on constitutional rights. Salazar calls it the “Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act,” a nod to the state’s World War II-era Republican governor who opposed the internment through executive order of Japanese Americans.

Salazar’s bill, according to a draft released at the beginning of the month, would prevent the state from providing race and ethnic identity data to the federal government for “any unconstitutional purpose,” including the development of a registry of residents or digitally marking and tracking or interning them based on their religion, ethnicity, national origin or immigration status.

Some observers are already referring to the Williams legislation as an “anti-Ralph Carr” bill.

“You know, think about that,” said Salazar. “Ralph Carr was a conservative official who stood up for people. Now we have a Republican wanting to do an anti-Ralph Carr bill?”

Salazar said the legislative history of the last few years in Colorado has pushed back against anti-immigration sentiment. Colorado recently repealed a 2006 “show me your papers” law that required local law enforcement to report residents suspected of lacking legal residency documents. The state also passed laws providing in-state tuition for undocumented residents and making drivers licenses available to undocumented residents as well.

Salazar is a civil rights lawyer and on Saturday he was on the frontline at the Denver International Airport protests prompted by the Trump executive order banning refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

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

One comment

  • Ann Blair

    March 16, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Why can’t the government come up with an expedited process to get green cards to illegals that have been here for more than 2 years and proven themselves to be valuable law abiding successful people not using welfare or taking advantage of others?

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