Colorado State Rep. Claire Levy said a bill that would make bail bonds more difficult to get by suspected illegal immigrants is just another attempt by the Republican party to grandstand on the issue of illegal immigration, but said it is likely to pass the House.
HB 1088 (pdf), sponsored by Colorado Springs Republicans Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Mark Barker, would eliminate an exemption that allows bail bond agents posting bail for individuals who eventually are removed from the country before facing trial to recover their funds from the state. The bill stipulates that information will be provided by the arresting agency to bonding agents of a persons suspected immigration status before they bond out.
“It looks to me like they are just trying to make it hard on people who are suspected to be here illegally to get out on bail,” Levy said.
Levy went on to explain that while there would be a vigorous argument against the bill, it would be pretty hard to stop it in a year when Republicans appeared to be “grandstanding on these issues and using illegal immigrants as scapegoats” for woes facing the state.
“I think that we will have a little bit of a rhetorical battle, but in the end I don’t think that we have the votes to stop it. Hopefully the Senate will,” Levy said.
Barker told The Colorado Independent recently that his bill was not intended to deny bail to any individual regardless of status, but to provide accountability and information regarding a suspect’s flight risk when bail was posted for someone who might be in the country illegally.
The Colorado ACLU says the bill would likely restrict access to constitutionally mandated bail based on untrained law enforcement officials’ presumptions of a person’s legal status.
“This quite obviously interferes with an individual’s access to their constitutional right to bail.” Rosemary Harris Lytle, communications director for the ACLU of Colorado, told The Colorado Independent. “This interferes with that right on the basis of a law officer’s suspicion that an individual might be here illegally when law enforcement officers are not trained to make those kinds of determinations.”