By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Republican Attorney General John Suthers yesterday told the Denver Daily News that he does not currently support bringing to Colorado an immigration law similar to Arizona’s that has caused a firestorm of debate around the country.
Driving back from the Western Slope where Suthers participated in public outreach campaigns to combat methamphetamine use, the attorney general questioned the constitutionality of the tough Arizona law, as well as whether it’s practical for state governments to criminalize immigration status.
“What’s going on here are people are crying out for the federal government to do what the federal government is supposed to do, which is enforce the immigration laws,” Suthers said. “I understand the frustration, but I don’t think criminalizing immigration status on the state level is going to accomplish that.”
Suthers also believes the courts will find Arizona’s law to be unconstitutional. The law requires local police to investigate the residential status of people when “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person may be an undocumented immigrant. The law also makes it a misdemeanor in Arizona to be an undocumented immigrant.
“The problem with the Arizona law is that they are venturing into a constitutional issue that I think will probably be decided against them, and that is whether the state can criminalize immigration status Ń my suspicion is that it can’t É” said Suthers.
Suthers has recommended that state lawmakers not introduce legislation similar to Arizona’s until it passes court challenges.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, a Democrat, issued a news release yesterday challenging Suthers to state his position concerning the controversial immigration law. When informed of Garnett’s news release by the Denver Daily News, Suthers said he had been making his opinion known for the past several days.
Garnett also agrees that the immigration law is not the right move for Colorado or other states, but he points to concerns being raised that the law will lead to increased racial profiling incidents and harassment.
Garnett points to comments he made on Sunday to KUSA-TV Channel 9.
“I can tell you that I think it’s bad policy,” Garnett told the broadcast. “I reject that bill, and I would strongly urge that Colorado not pass a bill like that.”
In other coverage:
The Durango Herald: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Tuesday he supports pending legislation that would allow local governments to opt out of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. He also defended his decision to join a national lawsuit challenging the new federal health-care reform law, and opposed Arizona’s new immigration law. Suthers made his positions known during a meeting with The Durango Herald’s editorial board.
The Denver Post: Attorney General John Suthers hit the Western Slope today and will be there tomorrow as part of the Colorado Meth Project.