UPDATE: Release from Colorado House Democrats on today’s debate:
In the first real floor fight of the session, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act by Reps. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar earned initial approval from the House on second reading this morning. The bill protects Colorado state agencies from being forced to participate in overreaching federal programs targeting religious or ethnic communities…
Through several attempted amendments, the House Republicans tried to weaken or alter the bill and to exempt undocumented Coloradans from the protections under the Ralph Carr Act. Had the amendments passed, it would have been a stark departure from settled law that establishes that the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution apply to everyone in the country, regardless of immigration status.
“The reason that we, the USA, are a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, is because the rights of the United States apply to everyone,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. “Every single amendment in the Constitution applies to everyone in the United States of America.”
Close to the end of the debate, Rep. Phil Covarrubias, R-Brighton, seemed to excuse the internment of Japanese Americans, including U.S. citizens, during World War II. “We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people—for anyone that has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on—there’s no time to ask questions and find out who is a citizen and who’s not,” he said.
The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act prohibits state and local governments from giving information about a Coloradan’s race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation to the federal government unless it is for a legal and constitutional purpose.
We’re monitoring debate today on the floor of the Colorado House over House Bill 17-1230, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act, a bill to protect “Colorado residents from federal government overreach based on a person’s status.” The bill draws its name from Gov. Ralph Carr, the Republican governor of Colorado who stood up for the welfare and dignity of Japanese-American internees during World War II, and gained new urgency after President Donald Trump began making good on his threats to ban travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim nations and rounding up immigrant mothers.
Debate on this bill today in the House has been fierce and ugly. Republicans have led a drive to pull Gov. Carr’s name off the bill, and to insert language from Rep. Dave Williams’ failed bill to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities”–both actions that Democrats found highly objectionable given the bill’s intentions and namesake.
And then freshman Rep. Philip Covarrubias, Republican of Adams County, took it a step beyond:
“We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people. For anybody who has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions about who’s a citizen and who’s not.
“You don’t have that moment in time. You need to regroup. It’s easy to sit up here and say this stuff now. If you’re in that moment, it looks a lot different than being able to be in a nice suit and tie. I hear people saying that we need to respect other people’s rights, and I agree with that. But what about THEM respecting OUR rights, our country and our laws? Because I’m not hearing that up here.”
You heard that correctly. That’s Rep. Phil Covarrubias defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
And then a little while later, he did it again:
“I’m wondering why the need for the Ralph Carr to explain Japanese-Americans [sic]. What happened prior to this that kicked this all off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. We need to look at the Americans that are in fear from terrorism, and all of things that we’ve seen over the last few years especially.
“Everybody’s talking about the ‘immigrants’ being in fear, or the other people being in fear. But what about our own people? What about Florida? What about San Bernardino? What about the things that we need to protect and we hold dear here in our own country? We need to take care of our home here and realize that we have plenty of citizens that are in fear. Yes, do we need a better path? Maybe so. But for right now today the way that the law is and the way that it stands, this is where we’re at. I want to protect us. Thank you.”
And with that, Gov. Carr can fairly be said to be rolling in his grave.