As state governments throughout the United States propose, if not outright provide, some form of financial assistance to unlawfully present migrants, Colorado taxpayers may be next in line to foot the bill for illegal aliens fighting deportation from the U.S.
Several pro-illegal alien groups in Colorado have advocated the creation a legal defense fund for unlawful migrants in Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) custody. The proposed funds would provide attorneys to aliens in immigration court; the money would come from the Colorado state government. The City of Denver already offers these taxpayer-funded services
Raquel Lane-Arellano, policy manager of the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition, expressed her reasoning behind this proposal, saying “Immigration court is the only legal proceeding in the U.S. where somebody can be detained without a lawyer.”
Lane-Arellano correctly points out that immigration court defendants do not receive government-appointed attorneys during their hearings, but she is incorrect in stating that immigration court is the only legal proceeding where someone can be detained without a lawyer. Being in the U.S. illegally is a civil infraction; the government has no constitutional obligation to provide an attorney to immigration lawbreakers unless they are charged in criminal court.
Lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens do not receive taxpayer-funded attorneys when they are charged with civil proceedings. And, in some cases, individuals can be arrested if they refuse to cooperate in a civil suit.
Having Americans taxpayers foot the legal bills of illegal aliens would impose significant and unnecessary burdens. With the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic still encumbering American families, this is not the time for such outlandish proposals.
If the proposal were enacted in Colorado, it would join nearly a dozen other jurisdictions that provide a legal defense fund for detained aliens. Mass migration groups have met with state lawmakers and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to urge creation of a legal defense fund.
Colorado House Representative Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County) endorsed the proposed measure. However, she voiced the possibility of her colleagues’ rejecting the legal defense bid due to a lack of monies to subsidize it. According to Representative Benavidez, the Colorado General Assembly is considering making spending cuts on programs, let alone starting a new one.
Recently, New York State eliminated funding for legal assistance to illegal aliens. The financial hardships caused by the coronavirus has compelled the state government to allocate the capital elsewhere.
It remains to be seen if Gov. Polis would veto legislation mandating taxpayer to pay for lawyers for illegal aliens. Gov Polis has embraced pro-sanctuary policies, such as limiting cooperation with ICE and codifying Colorado as a sanctuary state.