As protesters rallied on the capitol steps today in opposition to immigration legislation, lawmakers inside the building killed a bill designed as a copycat of a law passed last year in Arizona.
Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, one of the bill’s sponsors, said it was was being pulled from consideration because lawmakers did not want to burden the state with having to defend the law in court.
Democratic legislators and immigrant rights activists at the rally on the steps of the capitol today said there are still numerous others bills to be concerned about, and they called for an end to “Arizona copycat legislation.” They said seven bills scheduled for committee this week would hurt the state’s economy and lead to increased racial discrimination affecting more than just illegal immigrants.
The coalition of elected officials, advocacy, business and faith groups spoke out against bills proposed by Republicans this session targeting illegal immigrants, including a bill many have termed the Arizona copycat bill. That bill, which models many sections after the controversial Arizona legislation, was stopped today in committee at the request of the sponsor.
Still, people in the coalition said that they continue to be concerned about six other bills and others that may follow. They said the bills constitute a piecemeal attack on civil liberties and engender racial discrimination.
The protesters called for legislators to denounce bills that would allow law enforcement agents to arrest those they have probable cause to believe are illegally in the country, require E-verify usage by employers, compel communities to join the federal Secure Communities program and require bond agents to forfeit a bond if a defendant is removed from the country.
“The truth of the matter is that we are a country of immigrants and I remember somebody had a T-shirt once with Native Americans on it that said, ‘Who are you calling immigrant, white boy?’ Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, said. “We are a country of immigrants and a lot of our families have been here forever.”
Rep. Joe Miklosi, D-Denver, told the crowd that American values are not represented in the immigration bills being brought forward this session.
“One thing that I keep coming back to is that the American values of justice and accountability and family reunification are at the heart of any reform measure we are going to have,” Miklosi said. “The legislation that is currently being proposed… really goes away from some of those core American values and I want to make sure that those pieces of legislation are defeated.”
Miklosi said the history of American immigration is really the history of prejudice. “It is that we give you the business for one or two generations before you are assimilated.”
Hans Meyer spoke out against the illegal immigration bills in harsh terms.
“These Arizona bills are on the wrong side of history, but they are a perfect example of how justice and common sense and reasoned public policy get sacrificed at the altar of bigotry, at the altar of prejudice, and at the altar of cheap political gamesmanship.”
Asked what type of immigration reform the coalition would support, Meyer said one that supports a path to citizenship and allows families to be reunited.
Democratic Senators John Morse and Lucia Guzman were scheduled to speak but were unable to do so.