A bill that will make it harder to pick up undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Colorado was quietly signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis last week.
His office alerted the press Monday afternoon, since bill signings are not group activities during the coronavirus emergency.
Senate Bill 83 prevents civil arrests at courthouses. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Julie Gonzales and Rep. Leslie Herod, both Denver Democrats.
Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January people get picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents all the time, no matter if they are a defendant, victim or witness in an unrelated case at hand.
"When courthouses no longer are safe for everyone in Colorado to go to seek justice, it strikes me as problematic," she said.
The law still would allow any arrest ordered directly by a judge, however.
The bill, supported by the Colorado Bar Association and a host of civil rights and victims advocacy groups, passed the House and Senate on party-line votes.
"Given the chilling effect that ICE presence has on courthouse access, I am pleased by the governor’s action today," Herod said in a text Monday evening. "The courthouse must be accessible to everyone, equally, regardless of immigration status including victims and witnesses."
Republicans, in vain, questioned whether state government could create a law that supersedes federal enforcement authority.
"I'm not much inclined to try to adopt legislation that just generates litigation," said Sen. Bob Gardner, a Republican from Colorado Springs.
He said people are arrested at courthouses for all kinds of reasons all the time.
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