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Colorado forbids police from holding undocumented immigrants when ICE asks

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed House Bill 1124, one of several pieces of legislation involving immigration he approved. The new law took effect immediately with Polis’ signature.

House Bill 1124 prohibits law enforcement officials from holding undocumented immigrants solely on the basis of a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“It is thrilling. We don’t have words to express what this feels (like),” said Maria Mercedes Garcia, of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, who was involved with negotiations on the bill. “We have been through the experience of not being advised our rights and knowing that others will not pass through these circumstances leaves me speechless. All of our hard work was worth it.”

Before this bill and in other states currently, Federal Law Enforcement Officers have the ability to request ICE detainers, or holds, that allows immigrants to be detained for up to 48 hours after their release date if ICE believes they are undocumented. These extra two days allow for ICE agents to decide whether the individual should be removed from the country.

House Bill 1124 prohibits Colorado police and sheriff officials from complying with these ICE holds. It also prohibits probation officers from providing a person’s information to federal immigration officials and requires Colorado police to read immigrants their Miranda rights when coordinating a telephone or video interview with ICE.

However, Colorado police will still be able to assist federal immigration authorities when executing a warrant from a judge. ICE holds are not warranted by a judge but are voluntary requests.

House Bill 1124 passed in the Colorado Senate by a 19-16 vote. It also passed in the Colorado House despite the fact that four Democrats and all Republicans voted against it, making it pass with a vote of 36-28.

“I would ask everyone to respect the federal government’s right to handle this issue of immigration and understand there could be real-world consequences that could result in death to legal residents and citizens whom we came here to serve,” said Rep. Dave Williams, a Colorado Springs Republican, during debate on the House floor last month.

Senate Bill 30, another immigration legislation signed into Colorado law on Tuesday, allows immigrants to ask a judge to dismiss their guilty pleas if they were not told prior to pleading that a guilty verdict would harm their immigration status. The new law doesn’t require judges to dismiss the guilty pleas, only to consider the defendants’ arguments.

House Bill 1192 was another immigration law passed in the Colorado House, requiring all Colorado public schools to teach the history, culture, and social contributions of Latinos and other racial minorities, as well as LGBT people and religious minorities. Passing these courses are now requirements to graduate.

“With an increase in division among some of our communities, it will be beneficial for all children and youth to learn about each other’s background and to be able to see themselves in the history books,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a Democrat, after the bill signing at Corky Gonzales Library, which is named for her grandfather, a leader in the Chicano movement.