Looks Like Bill Ritter Won't Leave All Unfinished Immigration Business to John Hickenlooper

January 4 2011, 9:37 AM

For months, Republicans have pestered Governor Bill Ritter to sign an agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau to make it easier to deport undocumented immigrants who end up in Colorado jails. But immigrants rights groups criticized the Secure Communities program, which matches fingerprints of local arrestees with those in a federal database, for being too broad.

Now, with just one week left in office, Ritter is set to make Colorado one of the dozens of states to embrace the program, rather than leave the issue to Governor-elect John Hickenlooper. The Denver Post reports that Ritter has requested special conditions for the state, including an agreement that the program be used only for serious crimes and that local communities could opt out if they want. It is unclear if the feds have agreed to any of the provisions, but a formal announcement is expected this morning.

Alan Kaplan of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition says Secure Communities can create complications, particularly for police, as the program may erode trust in some communities, writes the Denver Daily News. Conversely, Stan Weekes of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal-immigration group, is "pleased, but not surprised" that Ritter is likely to sign Secure Communities into law.