Democrat state legislators in Colorado are moving to repeal an immigration enforcement law passed with great bipartisan fanfare in 2006. This is a clear warning about the fate of any immigration enforcement promises made in the next federal amnesty “grand bargain.”
In 2006, Senate Bill 90 was passed to prohibit municipalities like Denver and Boulder from adopting sanctuary city policies to obstruct local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agencies. Sanctuary cities exist in almost every state – Houston, Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles to name only a few. Denver was one of the first.
Under S.B.90, when a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person arrested for any crime is in the country unlawfully, he is required to notify the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE. If ICE asks for a “hold” on the person, local police then detains him. Cities are also prohibited from adopting any ordinance or policy that hinders cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. .
The Democrats advocating repeal of S.B.90 say it is obsolete and redundant because we now have the federal Secure Communities Program, or SCP. SCP requires that the fingerprints of all persons booked into any local jail be sent to federal immigration authorities to check against their database. Supposedly, SCP is now catching and deporting criminal aliens, so we no longer need to burden local law enforcement with the mandates of S.B.90.
The problem with this redundancy argument is that the two programs are not actually redundant. The two programs do different things and operate independently of one another.
The other problem with the repeal is more serious: The federal Secure Communities Program is not what it advertises to be.
Like most of our federal immigration laws, the professed and advertised intent of the Secure Communities Program is being deliberately and systematically sabotaged by the Obama administration. Because SCP is a purely an administrative creation, not a program established by act of Congress, it can be modified or discontinued by President Obama or Janet Napolitano at any time. Thus, repealing Colorado’s anti-sanctuary city law would be abandoning a state law for a federal administrative program that may vanish tomorrow.
Enforcement of the Secure Communities Program depends on two factors: 1) what crimes Obama’s cronies in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency consider worthy of detention and deportation – and at present that means only violent crimes, not serial DUIs or other misdemeanors and 2) what actions local sheriffs choose to take in response to the information provided by federal authorities. Here’s the important point: All such decisions are purely discretionary. A local sheriff can totally ignore the information ICE provides about his jail inmates who are illegal aliens and still be in full compliance with SCP.
For example, if the Denver County Sheriff chooses to disregard a notification that one of his jail inmates is an illegal alien who has been twice deported and is wanted for felony reentry, and releases that person on bond, no federal law has been violated. The criminal alien is gone, ICE has done its job and the local sheriff will not be held accountable for future crimes committed by that criminal alien.
So, what’s happening with SCP in Colorado? What percentage of illegal aliens identified by federal fingerprint records are actually detained and deported in each of Colorado’s 64 counties through the SCP program? Are more criminals aliens being deported since SCP was adopted across Colorado, or not?
We don’t know the answer to such questions, and neither do Colorado lawmakers. That’s because ICE does not release that information. We only know deportation totals for each state, not the other numbers that could tell us how well SCP is working to identify and remove criminal aliens in each community.
The federal Secure Communities Program has been continually weakened by the Obama administration. Democrats in Colorado now want to repeal Colorado’s own program and leave the state totally at the mercy of a completely discretionary and highly politicized Obama-run bureaucracy.
In 2006, Colorado Democrats, led by former Governor Dick Lamm, joined Colorado Republicans in enacting tough laws to restrict illegal immigration and help deport criminal aliens. There was in those days a consensus that everyone wanted criminal aliens removed, but that consensus has vanished now that Democrats control both houses of the state assembly and the governorship.
That tells us the real agenda of the Obama administration and Colorado Democrats. The only remaining question is how many Republicans will dance to that tune.