The Defend Colorado Now (DCN) initiative - CAIRCO history - part 3

This is the third in the immigration sanity history perspective of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.

The Defend Colorado Now (DCN) initiative

There are two ways to get an initiative on the ballot in Colorado: 1) via the initiative petition process (such as the Defend Colorado Now initiative), and 2) by the legislature referring a measure on the ballot. The initiative process is more difficult with many hurdles to be overcome along the way. But it often is the best choice when no other alternatives are to be found to implement the will of the people.

The Defend Colorado Now initiative was a pro-citizen, pro-legal-immigrant initiative that would amend the Colorado Constitution to prevent persons unlawfully present in Colorado from receiving publicly funded services that are not required by federal law. (Read the initiative).

2003: The DCN initiative was filed on December 31, 2003 by Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and was carried forward by Dr. Bill Herron, founder of CAIR, who we thank for his tireless work on the initiative. The initiative was known at the time as Save Colorado Now, named after the supporting issue committee as registered with the Secretary of State.

The initiative process calls for the initiative title ("Shall there be...") to be reviewed by the Colorado Title Setting Board where opponents can challenge the wording. On March 3, 2004 the initiative was approved by the Colorado Title Setting Board.

2004: The initiative was then challenged by the Open Borders Lobby and was taken to the Colorado Supreme Court. The Court issued a decision in favor of the initiative title wording on May 10, 2004. But the delay in this process did not give us adequate time to collect signatures in 2004. This was the ultimate objective of the Open Borders Lobby.

2005: The initiative could not be run in 2005 because Colorado law allows only tax-related initiatives to be run in odd-numbered years. In February 2005, Colorado House Bill 1271 was introduced in order to implement the intent of the initiative, but the bill was defeated.

2006: Fred Elbel turned over directorship of CAIR to Stan Weekes. Fred Elbel, former Governor Dick Lamm (D-CO), and Waldo Benavidez, Director of the Auraria Community Center, registered Defend Colorado Now as the supporting issue committee. John Andrews (R-CO), former President of the Colorado Senate, joined the committee and remained through June, 2006.

On January 4, 2006, DCN went before the Title Setting Board, who reaffirmed the initiative title. On January 18, DCN again went before the Title Setting Board to defend against a challenge by the open borders lobby. The Title Setting Board unanimously reaffirmed the initiative title. This was the fourth time since 2004 that the Title Setting Board had reviewed - and approved - the title (as had the Colorado Supreme Court in 2004).

On June 12, 2006, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a blatantly political surprise ruling on the DCN initiative saying in effect that they did not want Coloradans to vote on the initiative in November.

The Court, in a 4-2 ruling, stated that the initiative was not a "single subject" as required by statute because it would not only restrict administrative services to illegal aliens, but also would decrease taxpayer expenditures in doing so. (See this legal perspective).

This was the same Court that in 2004 had issued a ruling that said the title of the initiative was indeed a single subject. Why the about-face? Simple - it was clear that the initiative would pass! DCN had rallied thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of voters on the DCN initiative. Polls showed that voters overwhelmingly wanted illegal immigration stopped. DCN would have had no problem collecting the required number of signatures (we already had nearly 50,000 of the required 68,000 signatures!)

Petitions for rehearing were filed by DCN and by the Colorado Attorney General under the direction of Governor Bill Owens (R-CO) . On June 26, 2006, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a second blow to the rights of the Sovereign People of Colorado to decide via the initiative process how their tax dollars would be spent. The Court denied the petitions for rehearing.

In this ruling, the Court tried to modify its embarrassingly inadequate legal reasoning by substituting other inadequate and embarrassingly political reasoning. It was clear to everyone - from the Governor of Colorado to people on the street - that black robes could not conceal a political agenda.

On June 13, 2006, Governor Bill Owens held a press conference where he derided the Supreme Court for their arbitrary, unfair and biased ruling, and called upon the Colorado Attorney General to support DCN in calling for a rehearing by the Court. In addition, Governor Owens stated that if the court did not consider the motion in a timely manner, he would call for an emergency legislative session in order to vote on referring the initiative to the voters.

On June 29, 2006, Governor Owens called a special legislative session that convened on July 6, 2006 to address the initiative.


You may find these articles interesting:

Liberals Beware: There is a high cost to "cheap" labor, by Richard D. Lamm

The negative effects of rampant illegal immigration into the United States, by Waldo Benavidez

Intergenerational justice, by Fred Elbel

For more information, see the Defend Colorado Now initiative.