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Sanctuary State? Immigration Bill Not Sitting Well With Some Lawmakers, Governor

DENVER (CBS4) - Some lawmakers say Colorado would become a sanctuary state if a bill, making its way through the legislature, passes. The legislation is so controversial Gov. Jared Polis sent lawmakers a memo threatening to veto it if they didn't scale it back.

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The governor says while police shouldn't be forced to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they shouldn't obstruct it either.

"They're a legitimate law enforcement agency, and they have a critical role in preventing human trafficking and smuggling, and we look forward to continuing to have a strong relationship with ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies," he said.

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He says a bill by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez goes too far. It bars state and local government from using any public funds to assist ICE or entering into any agreements to help ICE. Benavidez says it's about public safety.

"If people are afraid to contact police, to call 911, serve as a witness, that undermines our security and safety of everyone in the state."

But, Rep. Dave Williams says the bill would hurt public safety.

"If we're really concerned about public safety then we need to be encouraging ICE or other immigration authorities to be working with our local law enforcement."

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Williams opposes the bill even after Benavidez promised to amend it. The new bill would bar police from holding inmates for ICE beyond what the law allows, bar probation officers from proactively helping ICE, and require that inmates be advised of their rights before being interviewed by ICE.

"We not only want to not help ICE, we want to help you evade ICE," said Williams.

Benavidez says the bill would not make Colorado a sanctuary state.

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Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (credit: CBS)

"This provides no special protections. This follows state law and federal law."

While Polis has supported immigrant communities and turned down requests by the federal government to send Colorado's National Guard to the border, he also promised during the campaign that he would veto any bill making Colorado a sanctuary state. He has not said if he will sign the amended bill.

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