Want more proof that immigration reform depends on federal legislation? Look no further than Colorado.
When local lawmakers decided “crack down” on immigration with new laws adopted in special legislative session held last summer, there were numerous consequences ranging from driver’s license woes to legal residents being evicted from their homes.
But now a Rocky Mountain News story reports just how ineffective one immigration measure is, and it was passed last year before the “special session.”A summary of the article: during the 2006 legislative session and in the heat of election season legislators passed a law to mandate reporting of suspected undocumented immigrants who were arrested or cited for crimes to federal authorities.
“For example, a guy who comes in and speaks only Russian, but says he was born in Denver,” Campbell said.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said most counties gave ICE the names of anyone booked into the county jail born outside the U.S. The county submitted 1,548 names to ICE, the third highest in Colorado.
“We are not attempting to determine people’s immigration status,” Pelle said.
“Nobody has the time or training to try and sort it out.”
According to the story, ICE doesn’t have the resources to investigate the thousands of suspected arrestees reported by local officials–who are legally required to use their own resources to compile annual reports of how many individuals they reported to ICE.
In a follow-up article the Rocky reported on lawmaker reactions to the news:
He said the fact that it has not led to increased deportations demonstrates that illegal immigration remains a federal problem that a package of state laws will do little to solve.
“It’s a useless bill. It has led to no change,” he said. “We can have officers round up every illegal immigrant in the state but if ICE doesn’t step forward, it doesn’t matter.”
Federal officials are still poised to work on immigration reform despite a set back in the Senate earlier this month. And on the local level, expecting federal officials to investigate every suspected case of an undocumented immigrant is clearly not a realistic option.