Politics

Liberal Lawmakers Tout States’ Rights in ‘Sanctuary’ Push

Colorado becomes at least fourth state weighing bill to counter federal immigration authorities

Democratic lawmakers made Colorado the latest state to consider a so-called “sanctuary state” bill Monday. The legislation would limit cooperation with U.S. immigration officials under the guise of offering “protection for Colorado residents from federal government overreach based on a person’s status.”

Colorado House Bill 17-1230, introduced by State Rep. Joseph Salazar, would prohibit the entire state from providing the immigration status of an individual to federal officials. It would also prevent Colorado from “aiding or assisting, including using state or local lands or resources, the federal government in interning, arresting, or detaining a person based on his or her … immigration status,” among other designations. The bill calls upon Colorado to refuse to engage in “discriminatory” behavior that is inherently “repugnant to Colorado values.”

“It sounds like in these sanctuary laws that states are very involved in immigration. They’re running their own residency program and are effectively doing everything they can to incentivize people to remain in their state illegally.”

“What we’re saying is we’re not going to allow the federal government to commandeer, co-opted or otherwise take control of our state and local resources for immigration enforcement,” Salazar said, according to CBS Denver.

Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told LifeZette that liberal politicians from states like Colorado don’t seem to have a proper understanding of federalism and states’ rights with all of their “sanctimonious moralizing.”

“States have an obligation as part of the federal union and under the Supremacy Clause to respect federal law and not do things that contravene federal law, and in most areas of criminal and civil behavior to conform their conduct in a way that enhances the enforceability of federal law,” Stein said.

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“This notion of state sovereignty — which of course has always been, you know, considered a conservative position … this has always been anathema to the Left, which always wants to federalize anything, nationalize anything,” Stein added.

But liberals seems to be more than willing to borrow conservative ideas when — and only when — it best suits their political agenda.

Since President Donald Trump took office Jan. 20, illegal immigrant activists and sympathetic liberal politicians have protested vehemently against executive orders cracking down on criminal illegal aliens and sanctuary city policies.

“Trump says, ‘Hey, you know — not happening. Bad hombres.’ People are dying,” Stein said. “This is serious. Sanctuary cities are a threat to public safety.”

Stein added that “Trump has got some really good expansive orders — the immigration orders are tremendously powerful.”

Colorado is not the only state where Democrats hope to pass sanctuary policies.

California sheriffs gathered Monday to slam SB 54, a bill recently introduced in the state Senate, that also would prohibit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement measures.

“If SB 54 passes, it will allow dangerous, violent career criminals to slip through the cracks and be released back into our communities,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But liberal California politicians seem to care very little for the concerns of law enforcement officials.

“It sounds like in these sanctuary laws that states are very involved in immigration. They’re running their own residency program and are effectively doing everything they can to incentivize people to remain in their state illegally,” Stein said.

In February, the New York Assembly passed the New York State Liberty Act, which would prohibit state and local police officers from stopping and arresting individuals based solely on their status as an illegal immigrant, as well as inquiring about immigration status when an individual contacts government agencies seeking help or reporting crimes.

The Act also forbids local law enforcement officers from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials’ detainer requests unless the immigrant in question had been previously convicted of a violent crime, Class A felony or was designated on the federal terrorism watch list.

The New York Assembly also passed the “One Day to Protect New Yorkers Act,” which reduces the maximum sentence for those who commit Class A felonies to 364 days, thus finding a loophole around federal laws that allow those criminal aliens with a sentence of a year or more to be deported.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that illegal immigrants should be able to live “without the fear of inappropriate deportation and other serious consequences,” according to the Gothamist. He added that the state has a “moral obligation” to help illegal immigrants, Politico reported.

Both bills are not likely to advance in the GOP controlled New York State Senate.

“Supporters of sanctuaries also say that these policies are necessary or immigrants won’t report crimes if they are victimized,” Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told LifeZette in an email. “This notion is a complete myth that was concocted by opponents of enforcement to try to justify their misguided sanctuary policies.”

Vaughan said that all of these piece of legislation are based upon a “false premise” that completely misunderstands ICE officers’ mission and the federal government’s overarching  goal.

“These bills are all based on a false premise; the supporters claim that the federal government is trying to coerce local governments into enforcing immigration laws. In fact, all the feds want is for locals to cooperate with them so that they can do their jobs,” Vaughan said.

“ICE does not patrol the streets looking for illegal aliens to arrest,” Vaughan added. “But they expect and need local law enforcement agencies to cooperate if they find out that someone in local custody after arrest for a local crime is also here illegally and someone they want to deport (and whom the public expects should be deported).”

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In mid-February, dozens of Massachusetts lawmakers expressed support for their own version of a “sanctuary state” bill called the “Safe Communities Act.” In addition to limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials, the bill would ensure that state funds were never used in supporting federal immigration policies.

Noting that each of these bills is a “bad idea,” Vaughan said these pieces of legislation “all aim to obstruct immigration enforcement” in every way possible.

“They claim they are trying to protect harmless ‘law-abiding’ illegal aliens, but the reality is that they will end up protecting mostly criminal aliens, because that is the focus of immigration enforcement, and that is the only type of immigration enforcement that the federal government needs or wants help with,” Vaughan said.

“I don’t think these bills will pass in their current form, because in states like Massachusetts and Colorado, the lawmakers know the policies are unpopular. In California and New York, they face opposition from law enforcement agencies,” Vaughan added. “In addition, these state lawmakers know that they could jeopardize some of their federal funding if they are adopted.”

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