Immigrant mandatory reporting repeal effort takes first step

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle (front) and Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson (back) testify in support of HB 1258 Monday.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle (front) and Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson (back) testify in support of HB 1258 Monday.

DENVER — A push to repeal a 2006 law that forces local law enforcement agencies to report suspected undocumented immigrants to federal authorities took its first step forward Monday afternoon.

House Bill 1258, which cleared the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Monday on a bipartisan, 9-2 vote, aims to repeal a 2006 measure passed by former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, and former Democratic statehouse Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

That 2006 law, Senate Bill 90, requires local law enforcement to report anyone arrested for a criminal offense who is also suspected of being an undocumented immigrant to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I don’t know why it’s taken six years to move forward with this repeal,” said the bill’s sponsor, first-year Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Commerce City. “I understand the reason they brought it back then, but it’s bad policy.”

Over 40 Colorado sheriffs voted unanimously earlier this year to support the repeal of SB 90, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, who testified at the Capitol Monday along with Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.

“When this law was initiated, it required us to make subjective judgments about someone’s immigration status based on their skin color, their ethnicity, their race, their language skills,” Pelle said.

“That has required a tremendous amount of work on the part of our staffs. It’s also required us to engage in policing based on subjective judgments.”

Additionally, Colorado’s recent participation in Secure Communities, a federal program aimed at catching law-breaking undocumented immigrants by checking fingerprints of those arrested with federal immigration data, has made the 2006 mandatory reporting law redundant, the sheriffs testified.

“The system now is implemented across the state of Colorado and it works very, very well,” said Robinson, who noted that, initially, the program’s implementation was uneven.

Only two Republicans, Rep. Steve Humphrey of Weld County and Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs, voted against the bill.

H.B. 1258 now heads to the full House for consideration and a vote. If it passes there, it will head to the Senate.