Defend Colorado Now legislative perspective
Responses to criticism of DCN's approach
Some have contended that DCN sold out to the open border lobby (OBL) by supporting legislation passed out of the July, 2006 special session. Responses to this criticism follow:
Did DCN sell out to the open borders lobby in July, 2006?
No. The legislative solution that DCN supported in July, 2006 did not preclude the legislature from referring an initiative to the ballot for the People to vote on. DCN did not abandon the possibility of a Constitutional amendment - a particularly important point that has been misunderstood. However, the resulting July legislation was generally acceptable to DCN (but could be stronger).
For more information, see the following section, the DCN legislative perspective, and My perspective on the legislative versus constitutional approach - by Dick Lamm.
Did DCN sell out to the Council of Foreign Relations and the New World Order agenda in July, 2006?
No. Some people look for the most complicated explanation for a phenomenon. Yet the well-known principle of Occam's Razor states one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. This principle is often called the principle of parsimony. The hypothesis regarding Colorado 2006 HB 1023 indeed could be true - that everyone involved was a pawn of the governing elites, but such an explanation requires a much higher level of conspired coordination than the basic explanation that the players interacted in a much less coordinated manner. Thus, the probability of such an explanation being accurate is significantly lower than a simpler explanation.
In other words, the most likely explanation is that everyone played their predictable part in the 2006 special legislative session. The end result was that we obtained legislation that was good, but not perfect. There was no grand conspiracy to pass a facade.
Did DCN draft terrible legislation in the July, 2006 special session?
DCN drafted not a single word. We lobbyed aggressively for legislation at least as strong as the 2006 Georgia legislation. However, the resulting legislation was drafted and passed by the legislature. We would have preferred that the legislation was stronger than the legislation passed into law.
Does HB 1023 create a new class of exempted illegal aliens under the age of 18 who are now entitled to public benefits?
No, not in our opinion. It is important to note that this bill did not create an exempted category of those under 18; those individuals were not subject to strict identity validation before HB 1023, neither are they after the bill passed.
Does HB 1023 create an entitlement to pre-natal services for illegal aliens?
In part. The bill states that ID shall not be required for services including emergency medical treatment, crisis counseling, short-term shelter, protection of life or safety, or prenatal care. This is not equivalent to saying that prenatal care for illegal aliens is mandated, but it clearly gives them access to services.
Was the DCN initiative well thought out and subject to legal review?
Absolutely. It was short, consise and legally correct. After review, it was submitted by Congressman Tancredo in December, 2003.
Did changing a comma and reversing two words in the initiative cause it to be defeated in the Colorado Supreme Court in June, 2006?
No. The open borders lobby challenged the initiative as a delaying strategy and would have done so notwithstanding the typographical changes. The Supreme Court, in an act of blatant judicial political activism, claimed the initiative was not single-subject.
Reflections on a legislative versus constitutional approach to immigration reform in Colorado
There are two ways to place an initiative on the Colorado ballot: through the signature collection process and as an initiative referred by the legislature, bypassing the signature collection process. In June, 2006, in a fit of unbridled judicial political activism, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against the Defend Colorado Now (DCN) initiative, thus preventing voters from approving the initiative. It was still possible for the legislature in the July, 2006 special session to refer the initiative to the ballot (the constitutional approach). The legislature could also pass laws addressing illegal immigration (the legislative approach). The following points examine the merits of these approaches.
- The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against the Defend Colorado Now (DCN) initiative in June of 2006. If the legislature had referred the initiative in its current comprehensive form to the ballot, the open borders lobby would likely have spent millions in a campaign against the initiative. It the voters had then passed the initiative in November, it then almost certainly would have been challenged by the open borders lobby in the Supreme Court and it likely would have been struck down once again.
- Upon surviving a Court challenge, the legislature would have been mandated with implementing the initiative in the 2007 session, in the absence of election-year public scrutiny. Thus, there would be much less pressure to implement strong immigration reform.
- The Democrats killed a number of immigration reform bills in the 2006 Colorado session, passing only a few. Their track record speaks for itself on immigration reform. Yet since then, the People of Colorado have spoken. Over 55,000 signatures have been obtained for the DCN initiative - 35,000 in the first month of volunteer petition circulation and another 20,000 after DCN told volunteers to stop!
The initiative clearly would have been placed on the ballot had the Colorado Supreme Court not intervened. The People are furious. Immigration reform was the number one issue in the 2006 election cycle and remains so. Thus, July was the best time to address the issue in a special legislative session.
- The legislative package supported by DCN in conjunction with key Democrats and DCN's opposition was comprehensive - it addressed not only public benefits to illegals (which was the sole focus of the initiative), but also included consequences to employers who hire illegals. It is a starting point - the foundation for even more comprehensive legislation.
- The legislative solution that DCN supported in July, 2006 did not preclude the legislature from referring an initiative to the ballot for the People to vote on. DCN did not abandon this option - a particularly important point that has been misunderstood. However, the resulting July legislation was acceptable to DCN. The 2006 legislation was a bird in the hand, and that's not bad at all.
- Unfortunately, when the Court denied the People of Colorado the right to vote on the initiative, bipartisan cohesiveness was lost and each political party began to use the situation to their political advantage. It must be made clear, however, that the "meeting of the minds" between Defend Colorado Now, key Democrats and our opposition was not a capitulation to the Democratic party or the open borders lobby. Rather it was a very successful attempt to salvage immigration reform from a meddlesome and unethical Supreme Court disaster.
- The weakness, of course, of a legislative solution is that it is not a constitutional amendment and can thus be changed over time. Yet America has now awakened to the immigration crisis and it is evident that any such changes will be remembered in the voting booth. Public opinion is demanding ever-stronger immigration reform legislation and now is an excellent time to implement such legislation - in every state.
For more information:
New era for Colorado - Owens puts pen to tough immigration bills aimed at
identifying legal citizens, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2006.
New era on immigration - Owens signs package of bills; effects felt today, by David Migoya, Denver Post, 8/1/2006.
Immigration law casts wide net - Effects to be felt all across state, local government, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, July 29, 2006.
100,000 will have to prove status - State's clients must show legal residency, by Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News, July 28, 2006.
Legislators gather to pass a good but imperfect bill on services to illegals, Fred Elbel, Defend Colorado Now, Rocky Mountain News, July 15, 2006.
- DCN 2006 legislative summary, including a list of bills signed into law.
- DCN August 1 and July 12 news releases on the legislative session.
- For more information on bills, go to www.leg.state.co.us and then go to the Bills sections under the House and Senate.
- Information on the SAVE and Basic Pilot programs at USCIS.gov.
- Wikipedia information on Basic Pilot
- White House Press Release on Basic Pilot Program
- Georgia legislation overview and comparison to Colorado legislation.
- Full Georgia legislation (or see this copy).
- DCN legislative perspective.
- My perspective on the legislative versus constitutional approach - by Dick Lamm.