Colorado is dropping a law that requires police to alert federal authorities about immigrants suspected of living illegally in the United States.
On Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed a bill that repeals the 2006 law. It passed with bipartisan support during a year lawmakers approved some of the strictest immigration enforcement policies the state had ever seen.
Some see the law as a precursor to more controversial policies later adopted in Arizona and Alabama.
The 2006 law required local law enforcement to notify federal immigration officials during arrests when they suspected someone was in the country illegally.
Those who wanted the law repealed argued it made immigrants afraid of police. They also say the law is now duplicative because a federal program checks fingerprints during arrests to check immigration status.
Proponents of such laws say that the federal government has failed to control illegal immigration, forcing states to take matters into their hands. The U.S. government has tried to fight such laws, and argues that immigration is a federal issue.
Colorado’s law, known as SB-90, required police to report people they arrested and they suspected to be undocumented to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“As immigrants become more and more involved in our civic life, they are having a greater impact on elections and legislation and they are voting for politicians that support issues that are important to them,” said Miriam Peña, executive director with the Colorado Progressive Coalition. “This bipartisan vote on the Trust Act tells me the growing influence of Latino and Asian immigrants is changing the political dynamic in Colorado.”
It’s been a busy week in Colorado when it comes to immigration matters.
On Thursday, the state grew closer to joining just three other states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The state Senate approved the license measure. The next step is the state House.
Licenses would be labeled to say the immigrants are not legal residents, and the identification could not be used to board a plane, vote, or to obtain public benefits.
The bill passed 20-15 after a short debate. The passage of the bill marks a shift in a state that seven years ago passed strict enforcement laws.
Sponsors say immigrants already drive regardless of legal status and should learn the rules of the road.
Republican opponents fear the bill will encourage illegal immigration.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.