Colorado Secure Communities Bill Passes Second Reading In House

03/21/2011 07:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A bill that would compel local governments in Colorado to comply with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency's (ICE) Secure Communities program passed its second reading in the Colorado State House on Monday.

In January, then-Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed an executive order for the state to join the federal Secure Communities program, which cross-references fingerprints of anyone booked into local law enforcement custody against records from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security Department. Ritter's order came after months of negotiations with the ICE, during which the Governor insisted on certain provisions, including a regular report from the ICE on the program's effectiveness.

Critics have charged that the program is likely to lead to racial profiling, and will make illegal immigrants less likely to cooperate with law enforcement. Some districts around the country--most notable San Francisco and Washington D.C.--have expressed opposition to the program.

House Bill 1140, sponsored by Republican David Balmer, would prohibit local governments that opt out of the secure communities program from receiving grants from the local government severance tax fund or cigarette tax revenues.

The Associated Press quoted Balmer describing the bill as a "carrot and stick" approach to the Secure Communities program.

“So this is a punishment to communities that don’t want participate and it is a reward to communities that do want to participate and do want to take seriously enforcing our immigration laws and making sure that Colorado is safe from dangerous criminal illegal aliens,” he said.

HB 1140 faces one more vote in the House before heading to the Democrat-controlled Senate.