Dems draft own plan for special session on illegal immigrants
DENVER – Democrats drafted their own plan to crack down on illegal immigrants on Tuesday and asked GOP Gov. Bill Owens to include it in his call for a special session on the issue.Owens said last week he would call a special session after the state Supreme Court disqualified a ballot proposal to deny most state services to people who are in the country illegally. Owens said voters deserve a chance to vote on the initiative and vowed to find a way to get it back on the ballot.Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said state law already bars most state services to illegal immigrants, including welfare, food stamps and Medicaid.”If they’re getting those benefits now, somebody is breaking the law and we have to enforce it,” Romanoff said.They urged the governor to go beyond the initiative and endorse their proposals to find funds to enforce the law and to require employers to verify employment eligibility.The governor planned to meet Wednesday with legislative leaders from both parties to go over their plans for a special session.Fitz-Gerald said if Owens does not call a special session, lawmakers have drafted their own proposal to call themselves back into session for the first time in the state’s history. That would require the signatures of two-thirds of the members of the House and the Senate and Democrats said they probably do not have the votes.Owens spokesman, Dan Hopkins, said Owens will probably recommend dividing the proposed ballot initiative into separate measures after the Supreme Court ruled it violated state law because it included two subjects: decreasing public spending for the welfare of illegal immigrants in Colorado and restricting access to administrative services, which the high court said could include recording real estate transactions.Conservative Republicans issued their own demands, asking Owens to include bills that were killed by Democrats during the legislative session that ended in May.One would amend the Colorado Constitution to ensure that English is the official language for all state governmental agencies or any political subdivision and the other would amend the Constitution to require proof of U.S. and Colorado citizenship to vote.”Having a basic understanding of the English language is a condition of U.S. citizenship. State government agencies and political entities throughout Colorado ought to communicate only in English unless required by the federal government,” said Rep. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.They said illegal immigration will be a major issue in the November elections.”The citizens of Colorado have lost patience with politicians who ignore their demands to stem the tide of illegal immigration in Colorado, and many will be voting in this years election to fire those who refuse to listen,” said Rep. Bill Crane, R-Arvada.Vail, Colorado
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