Defend Colorado Now

Open letter from Dick Lamm - Defend Colorado Now

My perspective on the legislative versus constitutional approach

July 1, 2006

Let's talk Public Policy! I personally believe there is no moral or legal reason we should tolerate illegal immigration. I wish to end it as an institution and as a threat to American taxpayers and workers.

How do we make progress toward this goal? When the Supreme Court knocked us off the ballot, Governor Owens (to his great credit) put us back into the game. If the Supreme Court didn't reverse itself, (which they didn't) we were going to get a special legislative session. I started to reflect upon what we could accomplish in that special session.

Should we merely ask to put our Initiative back on the ballot? That seemed inadequate to me. Why not go directly to legislation preventing illegal aliens from getting benefits, plus a secure method of verifying that applicants for public benefits were legal? Why not get in July most or all of what we were seeking next November?

If we went the ballot route, we would still need implementation legislation next January (as required by the initiative), which probably would not pass until May of 2007. WHY WAIT? Strike while the politics favor our cause!

I then heard that Federico Pena was in favor of penalties and sanctions on employers who hire illegal aliens. I contacted him. Mayor Pena feels (and he is absolutely right) that the employer was the key to stopping illegal immigration. While States are federally preempted from implementing full employer sanctions, Georgia showed us earlier this year that a State could do something. Mayor Pena and I put together a package which included both a verification system before anyone got public benefits plus some real consequences to employers who hired illegal aliens. We did this under the framework of Sections 7,9 and 9 of the new Georgia law, which is the toughest in the Nation.

Look at the wording of Section 9 which is attached below. Isn't that the best we could do next year after the Constitutional Amendment passed? What more would we want? Why wait?

I spent 8 years in the legislature, 4 of those 8 years in the Legislative leadership. In my opinion we couldn't get a better atmosphere to make real progress against illegal immigration than now. The Democrats are playing catch up on this issue and the Republicans smell blood. Why not do immediately what we were seeking in November?

One reason is to allow the people to vote. I see the issue but not the point. Why vote in November on something we can likely accomplish immediately? That would be a victory of form over substance.

I do see that the Republican party (rightly) is trying to make an issue of illegal immigration. They will still have the issue, but I do not think it best to defer something we can get immediately, so that the Republicans can have an issue in November. I am a Democrat, true, but I have always consistently worked against illegal immigration regardless of party consequences. I have constantly made life uncomfortable for the Democrats. But if they will pass significant legislation in July, should we turn down battlefield conversions solely to let the Republican's have an election issue? Indeed, they already have the issue!

I don't seek an issue; I seek progress against illegal immigration. I was able to get significant power centers to agree on virtually everything we sought in November PLUS employer consequences. That seems to me to be a very good deal for the cause of immigration reform in Colorado.



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