Colorado lawmakers told immigration clout is limited
State lawmakers are finding out their options to crack down on illegal immigrants is limited.
Auditors told the Legislative Audit Committee on Monday that even though lawmakers passed a law in 2006 making it easier for state authorities to enforce federal immigration laws, there is no way to force the federal government to take action.
The audit was ordered after an illegal immigrant from Guatemala was accused of causing a traffic accident last year that killed three people. He had a driving record dating to 2003 but was never turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Federal authorities said they were never told the man had been arrested and was suspected of being an illegal immigrant.
Auditors said most law enforcement agencies are complying with a new law that bars them from trying to prevent state and local authorities from notifying the federal government of illegal immigrants.
But “due to limited local resources and other issues identified in our audit, we concluded that implementation of (the law) alone is unlikely to prevent similar incidents,” auditors said.
Peter A. Weir, director of the state Department of Public Safety, said his department modified computer arrest records to highlight suspects who are believed to be in the country illegally so that suspicion doesn’t get buried in lengthy criminal histories.
Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, said she asked for the audit because she was concerned police weren’t sharing arrest information.
Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned some police agencies weren’t complying with the law to protect illegal immigrants, providing so-called sanctuary cities.
Auditors said there was no evidence that had occurred.
According to a survey by auditors, Weld County made 2,741 reports to ICE agents in 2007. Aurora made 2,532 and Denver 2,088.
They said Grand Junction police reported no illegal immigrants to the federal government that year because they turned them all over to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, which reported 278 suspected illegal immigrants.
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