DENVER — Gov. Bill Owens says he will not declare an official state of emergency over the impact of illegal immigration in Colorado, an Owens spokesman said last week.
Terry Graham, an immigration-moratorium advocate from Boulder who wrote and circulated petitions demanding Owens take that step, said Thursday that she and fellow activists are now seeking a two-hour meeting with the governor next month.
Last week, Graham and others delivered petitions with about 180 signatures to Owens’ staff.
Mark Salley, Owens’ deputy press secretary, said Wednesday that during a Tuesday appearance on a radio talk show, the governor said he’d decided — after checking with his legal counsel — that “the presence of illegal aliens doesn’t rise to the standards necessary” for declaring an emergency.
Salley reported that Owens had said that, while undocumented workers have an effect on Colorado’s state and local government budgets, illegal immigration is more of a federal issue that should be dealt with on that level.
Graham said Thursday that she had not received official word of the governor’s decision. But she said she had heard about it and sent Owens an e-mail asking for two hours to meet with her and other immigration-reform activists between Nov. 5 and Nov. 15.
“He needs to sit down with us,” Graham said. “He does work for us, and he needs to explain as a public servant what he can do to address this major problem.”
Graham said that, before any meeting, she wants to see a written opinion from Owens’ attorney about the governor’s ability to declare states of emergency, and restrictions on those powers.
Graham said she and her colleagues also want cost-benefit analyses performed on each of the demands in their petition, including one that would “establish and impose financial and personnel sanctions against state agencies and employees who conduct state business in languages other than Colorado’s constitutionally designated ‘Official English.’”
The petitioners also want Owens to issue an executive order “designating sports arenas, former military bases and other facilities as ‘overflow’ holding areas for illegal aliens awaiting hearings and deportations.”
Joining Graham at the Capitol to deliver the petitions last week, she said, were representatives of such groups as the Colorado Minutemen, the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, the Colorado 911 Visibility Project and the Coalition For A Closer Look.
John Fryar can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.