The introduction of a new bill presented by state Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, has received varied reactions from politicians and Colorado residents.
The Colorado Politician Accountability Act makes it a crime for elected officials to enact sanctuary policies. The term “sanctuary city” is a name given to cities that have adopted a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants by not cooperating with federal law enforcement on immigration policies and forbids police officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status.
The bill, which will be voted on Feb. 22, would also allow any victim of a crime committed by an illegal alien living in a sanctuary city to file civil action for damages against the elected officials responsible for creating the sanctuary policy. Denver has been considered a sanctuary city since 2006 and Boulder City Council voted to make their city an official shelter for undocumented immigrants earlier this year, making many elected officials in these cities targets for the proposed bill.
Many students who attend classes on Auraria are concerned with how Williams’ bill would affect them and their families. There are close to 400 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Advancing Students for a Stronger Tomorrow students on campus.
Student Government Assembly Sen. Cesiah Guadarrama Trejo said that ASSET students are undocumented students who aren’t protected against deportation by DACA. Trejo said that some students have voiced unease over the fact that this bill was brought forward by an elected official.
Trejo said that students hear about raids in other states and there is a fear that Colorado will be targeted next.
“As a community we’re strategizing as to what we will do to help each other,” Trejo said. “When a person gets detained, one, it costs a lot of money with all the legal stuff, and two, it basically puts the whole family in a different position.”
Intern immigrant specialist Ariadna Ochoa said that Williams’ bill has DACA students worried about their families and being separated from their families.
“Some of our students have decided to stop coming to school,” Ochoa said. “They don’t see any reason to continue with their education. For example, if they have DACA status and the government takes that away, they would have a college degree, but they would not be able to do anything with it because they would lose their work permits.”
The bill has also gotten a strong response from State Rep. Joseph Salazar D-Thorton.
“His bill isn’t going to go through,” Salazar said about Williams’ bill. “His bill is hateful, it’s spiteful, it terrorizes Latinos and immigrant communities. We’re going to stop it here in the House. It essentially requires law enforcement to engage in racial pro ling, to hold people in jails who have committed no crimes, and over all it destroys community and police trust.”
Salazar has presented his own counter bill.
The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act prohibits a state from complying with any federal agency to divulge the race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status or religious affiliation of any Colorado resident if it is for an illegal or unconstitutional purpose.
“My bill is designed to protect the state of Colorado and its residents,” Salazar said. “We want them to know we as legislators are here, and we’re listening to their concerns and angst and fears and bringing them something designed to protect them.”