One week after Republican lawmakers in Colorado introduced an immigration bill that stopped just short of the controversial measures taken by Arizona's legislature last April, the party has upped the ante.
Senate Bill 54, introduced last week by Senator Kent Lambert, differed from Arizona's controversial Senate Bill 1070 in that it allowed, but did not require, local law enforcement officers to arrest anyone they believe to be an illegal immigrant.
On Friday, a bill introduced by Representative Randy Baumgardner in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee comes much closer to the Arizona bill. House Bill 1107 proposes that local law enforcement officers "must make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status" of anyone they deem suspicious of being an illegal alien. Like the Arizona law, the Colorado bill would make "willfully failing to complete or carry an alien registration document" a crime.
The bill would also make it a crime for illegal immigrants to apply for work.
Many of the provisions in HB 1107 are nearly identical to those in Arizona's SB 1070 that were struck down by a judge in July on the grounds that federal law trumps state law.
Baumgardner, who was one of several Republican lawmakers to take a trip to Arizona this summer to learn about how to implement an Arizona-style law, insisted to the Durango Herald that he's "not trying to tell the federal government how to do their job." He pointed out that the bill is only 15 pages, compared to Arizona's 27 pages of legislation.
House Minority Leader Sal Pace told the Herald that most of the provisions that mimic those in the Arizona law were a non-starter, but Democrats are "willing to sit down and negotiate over compromises and consensus on immigration."
Baumgardner conceded before the legislative session began that any immigration law passed in Colorado would not look like 1070.
The focus of right-wing Republicans on immigration has caused consternation among some in the party, who would sooner have the congressional delegation focus on job-creation.
Yesterday, Lambert argued to CNN's John King that fears of a political blowback resulting from the GOP's introduction of strict immigration laws were "naive."
The Herald reports that the first hearing for HB 1107 is scheduled tentatively for Feb. 14.
READ HOUSE BILL 1107:1107_01