Referendum K: Nice Try

State Attorney General, John Suthers, didn’t hide his opinion about state Referendum K that the legislature placed on the 2006 ballot. “If I thought a suit against the federal government would have resulted in money for Colorado, I would have done it long time ago,” Suthers stated last month at a Grand Junction meeting.On this fall’s ballot, Referendum K is titled:

Shall the Colorado State Attorney General initiate or join other states in a lawsuit against the United States Attorney General to demand the enforcement of all existing federal immigration laws by the Federal Government?

In the Denver Post endorsement, they viewed Referendum K as:

….A sensible protest by state lawmakers anxious to nudge Washington into action. States cannot impose penalties for violations of federal immigration law. They can pass laws to prohibit spending tax dollars to provide illegal immigrants with government services. Colorado passed just such a law this summer. But more needs to be done….

…Referendum K received strong bipartisan support in the legislature. While perhaps symbolic, it might get some attention in Washington. If voters approve it, the state attorney general will be asked to fly this particular flag. Voters need to keep in mind, however, that suing the federal government will cost Colorado taxpayers an estimated $190,000 a year every year until the lawsuit is resolved. And a lawsuit is unlikely to help the state recover the millions it has spent on services. Other states have tried and failed.

Suthers said that 10 states have brought suits against the U.S. government concerning expenses incurred by educating, providing health care, and jailing illegal immigrants, including George W. Bush when he was a Texan governor. All have been unsuccessful in recouping costs, an estimated $225 million in 2005 in Colorado alone, according to the Bell Policy Center. (These immigrants are estimated to have paid $195 million in taxes, as well.)

“This is a reflection of the level of frustration about costs,” noted Suthers. “If we don’t secure our borders or have a sensible immigrant worker program, we really can’t solve the problem here in Colorado.”

Suthers said if the federal government won’t develop an action plan, at least they can reimburse states for extra costs incurred by following federal guidelines.

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Leslie Robinson

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