Illegal Immigration Special Session Fallout
First, Mt. Virtus has the goods on the role that Gov. Owens played in assisting the state Democrats in reclaiming the position on illegal immigration, after the GOP had assumed the mantle going into the special session.
Democrats like Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff have predictably patted themselves on the back for their "toughest in the nation" legislation, a claim which falls flat on its face upon examination:
• House Bill 1023, which denies most nonemergency services to illegal immigrants. Those seeking benefits must present valid Colorado, military or tribal identification. Illegal immigrants would continue to receive benefits mandated by the federal government or the U.S. Supreme Court, including K-12 education.Neither bill is much more than incrementally stricter--mostly cosmetic gestures made to look "tough" and ostensibly designed to end debate on the subject of state expenditure on illegal immigrants and the employers whose behavior encourages them to trek to Colorado in the first place.
• House Bill 1017, which requires employers to keep copies of identification of all new hires and authorizes auditors to conduct random inspections.
Tancredo nailed the second measure succinctly:
But Tancredo, one of the nation's leading critics of illegal immigration, called the business measure "simply a joke."The first measure, targeting non-emergency services not mandated by the Feds, will essentially force illegal immigrants previously on government dole to either seek better pastures elsewhere in the country with more favorable distribution channels, or go "underground" and remain in Colorado. So either the problem is shifted to other states, or the problem is shifted to other channels, as perhaps the crime rate might go up as a response to fewer resources being allocated to this segment of the population.
To make a real difference, Tancredo said, the law should have required businesses to see either a Colorado driver's license or state identification - among the toughest documents to falsify - for every employee, and to verify that information through a system run by the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.
"If a state wants to distinguish itself as being toughest on the issue, that's it," he said.
State Democrats view their deal with Gov. Owens as a "victory" that eliminates illegal immigration as perhaps the issue for the November election, at least here in Colorado. But their measures--designed to sidestep the Defend Colorado Now initiative's judicial smackdown that prompted the special session in the first place--came at the behest of the GOP. State Republicans demanded that Gov. Owens call the session, and though the outcome wasn't ideal, as the centerpiece of restoring the ballot initiative to Colorado voters didn't materialize, the GOP should take credit for making this an issue in the first place. They can continue to target the activist judiciary who thwarted a democratic ballot measure almost entirely capriciously, and also attack the state Democrats for not dealing with this issue earlier, as they are in the majority in both houses. For the Dems to get what they argue as the "toughest" legislation in the country, a special session had to be called, not exactly a great soundbite for the upcoming election--Tough Legislation By Democrats, brought to you by a special session we really didn't want. Yeah, that'll work.