Colorado Democratic Congressman Jared Polis Wednesday lauded the decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton to block sections of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070, which will go into effect Thursday. Polis said the ruling “protected the Constitution” but he also hailed it for spotlighting the pressing need for a federal solution to the national illegal immigration problem, which has festered for decades and become a source of intolerance and demagoguery.
“With today’s injunction against the Arizona law, it is now more clear than ever that immigration is a federal responsibility,” Polis wrote in a release. “I applaud Judge Bolton and the Obama administration for defending our constitution. The people of Arizona and our country demand that Congress take action to replace our broken immigration system with one that works. This judgment underscores the need for Congressional action. Democrats and Republicans need to quit playing politics with this issue; it’s too important.”
Polis, for one, has committed more than words to the effort. He has made the issue a centerpiece of his efforts in Washington from the time he took office in 2008. He is now a member of the House Judiciary panel that is likely to lead on immigration legislation, which the Arizona law may force to the floor despite election-year campaign calculations and the political hangover from the healthcare-reform war.
Polis today argued, as he has done in the past, that now is exactly the right time for immigration reform, as state lawmakers feel increasing pressure to take up local legislative solutions that won’t solve the problem and may well make matters worse.
The Obama administration sued Arizona over SB 1070, seeing it as an overreaction to borderland crime and a recession economy that puts the onus on local police to enforce immigration laws, a move that may well strain community relations, exacerbate racial profiling and violate rights. The justice department argues SB 1070 tramples on federal laws already on the books, which makes it illegal. In her ruling today, Bolton agreed.
Last October, Polis railed against a federal program known as 287(g), which granted broad immigration enforcement powers to local law enforcement agencies. He said the program had resulted in “sweeps of terror.” His comments effectively previewed much of the complaints about SB 1070.
“287(g) scares victims and witnesses of crimes to avoid contacting police for fear of being mistreated. It invites exploitation by [criminals] who know that they won’t be reported [by Latino victims] to police, because the law combines contradictory duties into the same police force,” he said.