Colorado Democratic Party leaders and rights groups are voicing appalled reaction to statements made Wednesday by GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, who lauded Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for signing tough, deeply controversial and perhaps unconstituional immigration laws in the country last week. McInnis said he would seek to do the same thing in Colorado were he to win election.
“Does [McInnis] realize that 20 percent of his own electorate is Latino and they are in line to be profiled by the Arizona law if they travel just one state over,” Chandra Russo, communications coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, told the Colorado Independent. “We find it abhorrent to see Mr. McInnis support a law to profile immigrant Americans.”
Others believed it was partly a misguided campaign tactic, that McInnis like other Republican candidates here, is tacking right, being steered in effect by influential Tea Party groups in the state.
“This is just the latest example of Scott McInnis being to the extreme right of his party.” said Bobby Clark, deputy director of the progressive group Progress Now. “Many national conservatives are stepping away from this law and yet McInnis is embracing it.” Clark said it only highlights the need for the kind of comprehensive immigration reform policy his organization supports.
Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak wondered where McInnis has been on the debate until now.
“As a party we have recognized that this is a federal issue and that we need federal reform. I think that the Arizona law is seriously unconstitutional and I am just wondering where Scott McInnis was when we were passing immigration laws… I think [McInnis] ought to start explaining what he knows about immigration law, because it sounds like he doesn’t know very much about it.”
The Arizona bill requires officers to demand citizenship papers from and arrest anyone they suspect may be in the state / country illegally. The law also establishes a procedure by which citizens can report businesses they believe to employing illegal aliens. The bill states that race, ethnicity and place of origin can not be used as evidence in police arrests or citizen reports.
Waak said the law is counter productive. “It puts an unnecessary wedge between communities and the police who are supposed to keep them safe. It undermines America’s basic notions of fairness.”
Waak noted that GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton, who has been caught out repeatedly catering to Tea Party voters, recently made statements similar to those McInnis made today about the Arizona law.
“The Arizona law is a natural reaction of states trying to solve a problem that the federal government has basically ignored for 30 years. Year in and year out, states have been forced to shoulder the increased costs associated with illegal immigration. If I’m elected as U.S. Senator, I will stand up for the rights of states like Arizona to protect their citizens from illegal immigration.”
Waak said she thought pandering to the “far right of the party” was not a wise campaign move.
ProgressNow’s Clark, on the other hand, saw the move as perhaps sincere and so a disturbing signal.
“If we are not careful, there are going to be more states like [Arizona], where irrationality and xenophobia take over and we end up with a patchwork of really awful laws,” Clark said.