Colorado Freedom Defense Act

(March 16) – The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act by Reps. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar earned approval from the House Judiciary Committee this evening with a 7-4 vote. The bill protects Coloradans against federal overreach targeting various Colorado communities and ensures the state never has a repeat of its tragic history regarding Japanese internment during World War II.

“The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act is a state’s rights bill grounded in the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Rep. Salazar. “This bill—just like the governor it is named after—protects Coloradans from unlawful overreach by the federal government that seeks to destroy families.”

“Being from Pueblo, born and raised, during the entire campaign, the words that were directly stated out of our now President’s mouth drove fear into many in my community,” testified Rep. Esgar. “Fear that I may not personally understand because I’m not from those communities that he’s attacking. I am from the LGBT community and we’ve come a long way in our fight for protections. And we got there because of the help of a lot of allies. I am sponsoring this bill to be the ally we all should be to each other.”

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.

The bill also prohibits state and local governments from working with the federal government to create or maintain any registries, identify with physical or electronic markers, or intern or detain a person based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status or religious affiliation. The bill does not prohibit law enforcement from sharing information about criminals with federal agencies.

Testimony in support of the bill lasted several hours while only one witness spoke in opposition.

“I’m a fourth generation Japanese-American and a survivor of the Japanese-American concentration camps,” said Dr. Jo Ann Ota Fujioka, who told the committee her family’s story of being forced to an internment camp in 1942. “Coloradans will not sit by idly while watching despicable acts of discrimination, but will preemptively protect the rights of all citizens. I hope that you will join me in proud support of a bill that shows that the people of Colorado will stand together in protecting Governor Carr’s legacy.”

“While my German-Iranian parents and grandparents who have lived through dark experiences of war and dictatorship find the recent developments in our country familiar, children in America should never have to become familiar with racial division, hate speech, registries or travel bans, which tear families apart and hurt our economy, national security and global standing,” testified 12-year-old Kian Ipakchi-Saiy.

HB17-1230 is named after Republican Colorado Governor Ralph Carr, who in response to the 1942 Executive Order signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt vigorously opposed the creation of the Japanese internment camps in Colorado. He is remembered for courageously stating: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me.”

The bill proceeds to the House floor for consideration.

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