A prosecutors' bill aimed at bail bondsmen who get illegal immigrants out of jail died a bipartisan death Monday in a Senate committee.
Surety companies, bail bondsmen, and immigrant attorneys and activists united to lobby against the measure.
Tamar Wilson, with the Colorado District Attorneys Council, argued that the bill had nothing to do with illegal immigration.
"It has everything to do with fairness," she said.
She said bonding agents are collecting a "windfall" when an illegal immigrant with a jail bond is deported from the country, a contention hotly in dispute. The district attorneys wanted the law to change so that bonding agents are liable for all of a defendant's bail even if he or she is deported.
House Bill 1088 died on a 4-1 vote with Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, voting with the three Democrats on the Senate panel. Two El Paso County Republicans, Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Mark Barker, sponsored the bill.
The bill failed, but I was still thinking about the implications.
What is interesting to me is that the bill doesn't seek to make it illegal to bail out illegal immigrants. Presumably, this is because the courts get bail money if illegal immigrants are bailed out. However, they wanted the bond officers to eat the bail money that would have otherwise been returned to them if the illegal immigrant gets deported. In effect, what the courts could do is get the bail money, release the illegal immigrant, and then turn around and arrest and deport them and the bondman would eat the bail. Obviously, this would be a huge deterant from bailing out illegal immigrants in the first place.
So what do we think? Should illegal immigrants be able to get bonded out of jail? And if your answer is no, is this strategy of making it too risky for the bondmen a good strategy?