DENVER — On Monday, Colorado's Democratic National Committee delegation sent a letter to the state party chair calling for the "public censure" of freshman U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper.
On Thursday, the senator voted in favor of a non-binding amendment that would block undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus payments.
The non-binding nature of the amendment means it's unlikely to have any impact on future stimulus plans: Federal law prevents undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus payments because they do not have social security numbers.
Joseph Salazar, a former state representative and DNC member said, non-binding or not, the vote sent the wrong message.
"We never thought he would go that far because this amendment went so far and deep down a xenophobic road," Salazar said. "You don't throw communities under a bus so that way you can try to curry favor from well known xenophobic and racist senators. You don't curry their favor and throw communities under a bus."
The non-binding amendment passed 58-42, with eight Democrats joining Republicans.
ACLU's Colorado chapter released a letter with 300 signatures saying Hickenlooper's non-binding vote sent the message, "I only care about you when I'm campaigning."
"It was an anti immigrant vote," said Denise Maes, ACLU Colorado public policy director.
Hickenlooper met virtually with leaders in the immigrant community to discuss his vote. Maes said after the meeting, she still wasn't clear why Hickenlooper voted the way he did.
"I think the non-binding nature of it was puzzling, like why? Why side with an anti-immigrant initiative if it meant nothing?" Maes said. "I think we remain disappointed about the vote, and we wanted to let the senator know that we would be watching for his future votes."
Maes said Hickenlooper seemed receptive to their feedback and concerns.
Colorado Jobs with Justice was one of the 300 immigrant advocates that signed ACLU Colorado's letter. The coalition advocates for worker's rights, according to Executive Director Pamela Resendiz.
"This vote seemed to be such an easy decision for him without him taking into account the stories of constituents that he represents," Resendiz said.
A spokesperson for Hickenlooper emphasized that the senator remains committed to comprehensive immigration form. The following statement was provided:
“Immigrant communities and undocumented workers specifically are on the front lines of our economy — now more than ever. I recognize how this vote has distorted that important fact and fed dangerous and damaging narratives about the undocumented community. We’ve had several productive conversations about this and I remain committed to working together to finally achieve a comprehensive fix for our broken immigration system, including a pathway to citizenship.”
- Senator John Hickenlooper
Denver7 reached out to Colorado's Democratic Party for comment and did not hear back.