Owens Signs Anti-Trafficking And Verification Bills
Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement (video):
Gov. Bill Owens signed immigration bills Tuesday establishing a State Patrol unit to crack down on human smuggling.Should have had this years ago, but better late than never.
It also requires state contractors to verify the immigration status of new hires.
"There are few crimes more heinous than the smuggling and trafficking of human beings," Owens said. "Enforcement is a key element in the state's efforts to stop this appalling practice and the new CSP unit will play a critical role."Target the enablers, the human smugglers and those who encourage illegal immigration through employment.
The new 24-member unit will be an addition to the patrol and will not divert troopers from other work, Patrol Chief Mark Trostel said.
Trostel said the unit will eventually include 20 troopers, a captain, two sergeants and an administrative support member. He said 12 new troopers will be hired after July 1 and 12 more beginning in July of next year.
The idea is to crackdown not on the illegal immigrants themselves, but on the "coyotes" who bring them into the U.S.
Last week, the Owens signed two other bills that will make human smuggling and human trafficking felonies.Which, again, is a good thing, though true action should come at the federal level, since national security and our nation's borders are federal responsibilities, not the individual states'.
Human smuggling was already a crime under federal law, but state law-enforcement agencies and immigration critics complained that federal authorities haven't been tough enough on people who transport illegal immigrants in crowded vans and trucks.
"We see them come through everyday," said Raymond McDaniel, who lives in Lochbuie. "They're easy to spot."
However, the sight may become less common with the new law.
"We're doing everything we can think of that we can do as a state," said Owens.
The State Patrol hopes the new law stops the human smuggling before they have to. "It's like anything else. If someone knows they're going to be charged with a felony because of actions they're doing, that's a deterrent," said Trooper Eric Wynn with the Colorado State Patrol.Unfortunately, this should be extended to all businesses, not just those doing work for the state. Others doubt the efficacy of the new bills.
Under the second bill signed Tuesday, contractors doing business with the state are required to use a federal database to verify that new employees are in the country legally.
Contractors who knowingly hire illegal immigrants could lose their state contracts.
The measures were among just a few immigration bills to survive after the Legislature spent weeks wrestling with the issue. Many were killed early in the session.
And some are skeptical the new law will really work. "What are they going to do? What are they going to do with them when they pick them up? Are they going to deport them? And they'll be back tomorrow," said McDaniel.527 is probably a mere fraction of the total number, which could easily be many, many times higher. Once again, this represents not the ideal, but rather a better than nothing situation, which in today's political climate seems to be the only realistic outcome--though that should not discourage tougher stances and higher expectations of elected officials.
The State Patrol says it runs into 527 illegal immigrants a week on average, and it's still unclear what will happen to the immigrants themselves once the new unit is up and running.