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Immigration law, Government, Criminal statutes, Colorado’s human smuggling statute


Despite the federal government’s well known expansive reach in creating and enforcing immigration law, the states retain substantial authority to play an important role in migrants’ lives. Through their traditional powers to adopt criminal statutes and police their communities, states can indirectly — but intentionally — inject themselves into the incidents of ordinary life as a migrant. Colorado’s human smuggling statute, currently being challenged before the state supreme court, illustrates this type of state regulation of migration. This essay addresses the statute’s reach, its shaky constitutional footing, and places it in a broader context in which states criminalize immigration-related activity.

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