By John Fryar
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — While Congress continues to wrestle with immigration reform, state lawmakers recently approved at least seven measures targeting illegal immigration in Colorado.

For the past two weeks, a new state statute has required law enforcement officers to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials whenever they believe someone they’ve arrested is in the country illegally.

Senate Bill 90, which took effect when Gov. Bill Owens signed it into law May 1, was the first immigration-themed bill to clear the lawmaking process during the recently concluded 2006 legislative session.

SB90 also targets cities and counties with so-called illegal-immigration “sanctuary” policies that prohibit local officials, including law enforcement, from working with federal officials about the citizenship status of immigrants.

Municipal and county governments now have to notify law enforcement, in writing, about their duty to cooperate with state and federal officials in enforcing immigration laws. Governments with sanctuary policies — or ones that fail to order officers to cooperate — will lose eligibility for grants administered by the state Department of Local Affairs.

Before concluding its session May 8, the Legislature approved at least six other measures dealing with illegal immigration. Each awaits Owens’ decision whether to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature:

Senate Bill 206, which would make it a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison, to smuggle someone into or through Colorado in violation of federal immigration laws. A separate felony charge would be possible for each illegal immigrant smuggled.

Senate Bill 207, which would make trafficking in adult illegal immigrants a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 24 years in prison.

Senate Bill 225, which would create a special Colorado State Patrol immigration-enforcement unit, starting with 12 people during 2006-07 and expanding to 24 people in fiscal 2007-08.

Senate Bill 110, which would create a $50,000 fine for anyone caught forging, counterfeiting, altering or providing documents for illegal immigrants to use to fraudulently verify their eligibility to work in this country.

House Bill 1343, which would prohibit a state or local government agency from contracting for goods and services from a business that knowingly employs illegal aliens, or that knowingly subcontracts with another business that employs illegal immigrants. HB1343 also would require businesses with government contracts to verify their employees’ work status through a Department of Homeland Security-sponsored computer database.

House Bill 1306, which would direct a state audit of whether state agencies and public colleges and universities are complying with a 2003 law that established the kinds of “secure and verifiable” identity documents that the state can accept as a valid ID for public services. Those do not include Mexican matricula consular ID cards