Special Session Law Gets Nothing

A law that sought to recover money from the federal government for costs of illegal information isn’t going to get anywhere, according to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

In a report released before the New Year, Attorney General John Suthers found that implementing the new law passed during the General Assembly’s special session on immigration would only be possible if action were taken by members of the federal U.S. Congress.From the bill (PDF):

(1) ON AND AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF COLORADO, SHALL PURSUE ALL AVAILABLE REMEDIES TO RECOVER ANY MONEYS OWING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE STATE FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS INCURRED BY THE STATE IN DEALING WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

From the report:

The legal remedies available to the State, however, are very limited. Unless Congress has specifically appropriated funds for reimbursement, courts have held that states may not extract payment from the federal government. Moreover, our review shows that where Congress has created and funded programs to reimburse states, as it has with SCAAP and Medicaid, Colorado’s agencies have pursued those funds that are available to the state. Therefore, no moneys appear to be legally owing from the federal government
to the state.

The Attorney General also suggests that the state continue to look for ways to reduces costs related to immigration. There is an estimated $36 million for incarceration costs pertaining to illegal immigration.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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