DENVER (KDVR) — Immigration reform is a topic many are calling on the federal government to act on. In Colorado, lawmakers are looking to address one aspect of immigration reform they say is an issue here and beyond.
Vallerie Bustamante is a community organizer with the nonprofit Stand for Children. She is also the daughter of immigrants. She came to the state Capitol this week to advocate for a measure that would end intergovernmental service agreements, or IGSAs, agreements between the federal government and local agencies where local agencies provide space in area jails and prisons to detain undocumented people.
“We’re basically paying our taxes to treat people wrong,” Bustamante said.
“There are still a few municipalities that have intergovernmental agreements with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Very few, but we want to make sure we limit this into the future and to make sure Colorado is a place that will respect people who are undocumented,” said bill sponsor Rep. Naquetta Ricks of Aurora.
Teller County is one of those communities that still utilizes an IGSA for detention operations. The county sheriff testified against the measure saying the bill would put detainees at risk of being separated from their families and sent to places that may deliver inadequate care.
“If an arrest is made in my community or yours, they will be transported to a detention facility outside of Colorado. Right now, they are held inside of a detention center here in Colorado so their families can be close to them but if this legislation goes through, they will immediately be sent to any other state unknown where or what bed they will receive and their families aren’t going to know about that,” said Sheriff Jason Mikesell.
Ricks, who migrated to Colorado herself as a teen, said the intent is not to stop people from the help they need.
“It does not stop anyone from helping people,” Ricks said. “Basically, we are just saying that taxpayer funds should not be used to act as the federal government to support the federal government in their criminality or detention of undocumented people.”
The measure passed the judiciary committee by a vote of 7 to 6. At least six other states have already passed similar legislation.