Bill that would have allowed lawsuits against 'sanctuary city' officials dies in House committee

Posted at 10:48 AM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 12:51:03-05

DENVER – A bill that would have prohibited the establishment of “sanctuary cities” in Colorado and would have allowed individuals affected by such policies to sue the lawmakers who put the laws in place died in a House committee Wednesday night.

The House State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee killed House Bill 1134 with a 6-3 party-line vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dave Williams, R-El Paso County, told Denver7 Tuesday the bill would have forced politicians “to have skin in the game.”

“If they create the sanctuary city, then they would have to be responsible for the backlash and the follow to that,” he said.

The bill would have allowed for victims of a crime committed by an undocumented person to file a civil lawsuit or criminal complaint against the official or officials who created the “sanctuary” status in that jurisdiction.

It would have allowed people to seek up to $700,000 per person in injury compensation, and up to $1.98 million if two or more people were injured.

The bill also would have established the crime of “rendering assistance to an illegal alien through a sanctuary jurisdiction,” which would have been a class 4 felony.

But the bill saw staunch opposition from Democrats and other groups.

Kyle Huelsman, the policy manager for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, called the bill unconstitutional.

“This is one of the most anti-immigrant and xenophobic bills that we’ve seen in the last decade,” Huelsman told Denver7. “Rep. Williams and (co-sponsor) Sen. Vicky Marble have gone to new extremes to push a radical anti-immigrant agenda in the State Capitol.”

Rep. Williams fired back at the Democrats on the committee who killed his bill in a news release.

"Democrats sent a clear message to Coloradans they are unwilling to accept any responsibility for policies that inhibit criminal illegal aliens from being reported to federal immigration authorities," Williams said in the release. "If elected officials want to create a sanctuary city, they should be held accountable if those policies directly result in known criminals being released rather than deported." 

Boulder is the only city in Colorado that has officially proclaimed itself as a "sanctuary city."


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