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Colorado Rights Blog

HB17-1134: Hold Colorado Government Accountable Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Immigrants’ Rights
Bill Number: HB17-1134
Year: 2017
ACLU Position: Active Oppose
Sponsors: D. Williams / V. Marble

Description:

The bill is known as the Colorado Politician Accountability Act.
The bill includes a legislative declaration that states that addressing
sanctuary jurisdictions is a matter of statewide concern and that makes
findings about how sanctuary policies are contrary to federal law and state
interests.
The bill creates a civil remedy against the state or a political
subdivision of the state (jurisdiction) and against its elected officials for
creating sanctuary policies. The bill also creates a crime of rendering
assistance to an illegal alien that can be brought against an elected official
for creating a sanctuary jurisdiction.
An elected official is responsible for the creation of a sanctuary
jurisdiction if the elected official votes in favor of imposing or creating
a law, ordinance, or policy that allows the jurisdiction to operate as a
sanctuary jurisdiction, fails to take steps to try to change a law, ordinance,
or policy that allows the jurisdiction to operate as a sanctuary jurisdiction,
or is a county sheriff who imposes or enforces a policy that allows the
jurisdiction to operate as a sanctuary jurisdiction in a county in which the
elected officials have not voted to impose or create a sanctuary
jurisdiction.
The bill allows any person who claims that he or she is a victim of
any crime committed by an illegal alien who established residency in a
sanctuary jurisdiction to file a civil action for compensatory damages
against a jurisdiction and against the elected officials of the jurisdiction
who were responsible for creating the policy to operate as a sanctuary
jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the protections of the Colorado
Governmental Immunity Act, the jurisdiction and its officials who are
responsible for creating a sanctuary jurisdiction are civilly liable for
damages if the person who engaged in the criminal activity:
• Is determined to be an illegal alien;
• Had established residency in the sanctuary jurisdiction; and
• Is convicted of the crime that is a proximate cause of the
injury to a person or property.
The maximum amount of compensatory damages for injury to
persons is $700,000 per person or $1,980,000 for injury to 2 or more
persons; except that no person may recover in excess of $700,000. The
maximum amount of compensatory damages for injury to property is set
at $350,000 per person or $990,000 for injury to multiple persons; except
that no person may recover in excess of $350,000.
The bill defines a sanctuary jurisdiction as a jurisdiction that
adopts a law, ordinance, or policy on or after the effective date of this bill
that prohibits or in any way restricts an official or employee of the
jurisdiction from:
• Cooperating and complying with federal immigration
officials or enforcing federal immigration law;
• Sending to or receiving from or requesting from federal
immigration officials information regarding the citizenship
or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of an individual;
• Maintaining or exchanging information about an
individual’s immigration status, lawful or unlawful, with
other federal agencies, state agencies, or municipalities;
• Inquiring about an individual’s name, date and place of
birth, and immigration status while enforcing or conducting
an official investigation into a violation of any law of this
state;
• Continuing to detain an individual, regardless of the
individual’s ability to be released on bail, who has been
identified as an illegal alien while in custody for violating
any state law; or
• Verifying the lawful presence and eligibility of a person
applying for a state or local public benefit as required by
state and federal law.
The bill sets forth the requirements for determining when an illegal
alien has established residency in a sanctuary jurisdiction. An illegal
alien is defined as a person who is not lawfully present within the United
States, as determined by federal immigration law.
The governing body of any jurisdiction is prohibited from adopting
a law, ordinance, rule, policy, or plan or taking any action that limits or
prohibits an elected official, employee, or law enforcement officer from
communicating or cooperating with an appropriate public official,
employee, or law enforcement officer of the federal government
concerning the immigration status of an individual residing in the state.
The governing body of a jurisdiction is required to provide written notice
to each elected official, employee, and law enforcement officer of the
jurisdiction of his or her duty to communicate and cooperate with the
federal government concerning enforcement of any federal or state
immigration law. The governing body of any jurisdiction in this state is
required to annually submit a written report to the department of public
safety (department) that the jurisdiction is in compliance with the
cooperation and communication requirements. If the department does not
receive those written reports, the department is required to provide the
name of that jurisdiction to the state controller.
A law enforcement officer of a jurisdiction who has reasonable
cause to believe that an individual under arrest is not lawfully present in
the United States shall immediately report the individual to the
appropriate U.S. immigration and customs enforcement office (ICE)
within the department of homeland security. The governing body of any
jurisdiction is required to report annually to the department on the number
of individuals who were reported to ICE by law enforcement officers
from that jurisdiction. The department is directed to compile and submit
annual reports on compliance to the general assembly and to the state
controller. The state controller is required to withhold the payment of any
state funds to any jurisdiction that is found by the department to have
failed to comply with these reporting requirements. The state controller
shall withhold funds until the department notifies the state controller that
the jurisdiction is in compliance.
The bill creates the crime of rendering assistance to an illegal alien
through a sanctuary jurisdiction, which is a class 4 felony. A person who
is an elected official of a jurisdiction commits rendering assistance to an
illegal alien through a sanctuary jurisdiction if, with intent to hinder,
delay, or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution,
conviction, or punishment of illegal aliens within the jurisdiction:
• He or she was responsible for creating a sanctuary
jurisdiction in the jurisdiction to which the official is
elected; and
• When, as a result of the protection afforded by a sanctuary
jurisdiction, a third person engages in criminal activity and
the third person:
• Is an illegal alien as legally defined by federal
immigration law;
• Had established residency in the sanctuary
jurisdiction that was created by the official; and
• Has been convicted of a crime that caused injury to
a person or to property.
A person who has knowledge of a crime committed by an illegal
alien as a result of the creation of a sanctuary jurisdiction may file an
affidavit with the attorney general or with a district attorney outlining the
crime and requesting that charges be brought or that a grand jury be
impaneled. The attorney general or district attorney shall investigate and
respond in writing with his or her decision to the person filing the
affidavit within 49 days. If the attorney general or district attorney
declines to bring charges or impanel a grand jury, the person may file a
second affidavit directly with the applicable court.
The bill includes a severability clause and a provision that states
that the bill is not subject to judicial review.
The bill takes effect upon passage and applies to acts or omissions
occurring on or after said date.


Current Status:

House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Postpone Indefinitely (02/22/2017)
Introduced In House - Assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs + Judiciary (01/30/2017)



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