Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are pushing to advance a bill that would effectively ban immigration detention in the state.
The bill, which was introduced Jan. 23, seeks to prohibit any state or local government in Colorado from signing a contract with an immigration detention facility, selling government property for the detention of illegal immigrants and profiting or providing funding for such detention. The bill’s introduction comes after months of record surges of illegal immigration across the southern border, where federal authorities have recorded more than 874,000 migrant encounters between October 2021 and January 2022. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: There’s A Massive Loophole In Biden’s Immigration Parole Program)
Colorado has had to shoulder a significant portion of the burden stemming from the influx in illegal immigration, with the state’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, recently beginning to bus illegal immigrants out of the state to New York City.
“We’re using taxpayers’ dollars to extend the arms and facilities of ICE, and we don’t think that’s a good use of taxpayers’ money,” State Rep. Naquetta Ricks said, according to Denver ABC 7. “The federal government has the right to do as they do. But I don’t think that state tax dollars should be going to enhance the work that they’re doing.”
The bill would also force the end of any existing immigration detention contracts with state and local governments by January 2024.
“You’re harming people by having a part of our community locked up. This is a civil matter, not criminal,” Ricks said. “We want to keep families together. We want to make sure that undocumented people who have committed a civil infraction, which is not criminal, get the same type of process of due process as someone who would have their papers going through the same process. They would not be locked up for 30 days in the detention center for a civil matter.”
Republicans opposing the bill, however, argue that it risks public safety and would be an open invitation for illegal immigrants to flock to the state.
“I think that the unintended consequences, actually will harm those most vulnerable folks in our state and in our community,” Republican State Rep. Gabe Evans said, according to Denver ABC 7.
“If this bill passes in its current form, does that create an incentive for asylum seekers and folks who are not in this country legally to come to Colorado? And what is the impact that that has on the rest of our community?” Evans said. “How do we handle that? Do we have the resources, the capability and the workforce?”
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