Analysis: Colorado Dems Retreat from Illegal Immigration Crackdown They Authored

Article publisher: 
Colorado Observer
Article date: 
15 January 2013
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

...As Democrats prepare to push for sweeping immigration reforms, the mainstream media has been quick to cite the statements of such beltway luminaries as indications that a Republican flip-flop on the issue is forthcoming...

Just a few short years ago in Colorado, Democrats too were leading the legislative charge against illegal immigration – a fact that has been largely absent from most media reporting on the subject.

Colorado’s mainstream media rarely describes the coming year’s fight over same-sex union legislation without describing its unceremonious death in the past. But a TCO review of recent news related to the debate over in-state tuition for undocumented students [illegal alien students] failed to uncover a single occasion in which reports mentioned that a Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature was responsible for enacting the state law that bars illegal aliens from receiving most public benefits. [2006 House Bill 1023]

Based on coverage of the in-state tuition debate, few Coloradans would guess that just over six years ago, Colorado State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver), and State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Golden) joined forces to pass an illegal immigration enforcement bill that was described in the Washington Post as “the toughest in the nation.”

So strong was the public demand for stricter immigration laws at the time that even the progressive Bell Policy Center couldn’t bring itself to oppose Romanoff and Fitz-Gerald’s far-reaching ban on taxpayer assistance for illegal immigrants.

In fact, Romanoff and Fitz-Gerald’s bill counted among its supporters such liberal stalwarts as then-State Representative and current Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) and then-Rep. Terrance Carroll (D-Denver) – who currently serves as a trustee at Metro State College, where he has been an outspoken advocate for illegal alien tuition discounts.

While the role of Democrats in stiffening Colorado’s anti-illegal alien laws has long since faded from media headlines in Denver, it was front and center three years ago during the contested Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between Romanoff and Michael Bennet....

...“It’s reminiscent of the Democrats flip-flop on civil rights in the 1960′s,” said State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “They went from destroying the effort to taking credit for civil rights in one big flop. Anything to win elections.”..

After being blasted by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo during the gubernatorial campaign for running a “sanctuary city” as Mayor of Denver, Governor John Hickenlooper tried to walk a fine line on illegal immigration after being sworn in...

Since the November election, however, Hickenlooper has joined the growing chorus of Democrats who have pivoted on the issue. Once firmly on the fence in the in-state tuition battle, the governor is now among the idea’s loudest cheerleaders, plugging the contentious proposal during his State of the State address last week.

Hickenlooper’s conversion on the in-state tuition issue is a microcosm of the broader evolution of Democratic Party’s top brass on illegal immigration — an evolution almost entirely suppressed from the political narrative by Colorado’s leading media voices...

... the policies Democrats will be seeking to reverse won’t be policies authored by Republican hard liners. They will be seeking to reverse policies that were authored, passed and touted by Democrats– including some who are still serving under the gold dome.