There was much to celebrate at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition’s West Slope Regional meeting on May 25th! This year’s legislative session saw the passage of several new or updated pro-immigrant laws. Read more about them below.
New Offices for Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Persons are Opening
While Colorado has been issuing driver’s licenses for undocumented persons since 2014, there were only 3 offices in the state that issued these licenses. High demand, coupled with the fact that all of these offices are on the Front Range, made it difficult for residents of the Western Slope to get one of these licenses.
Fortunately, passage of SB-139 has expanded the number of offices providing driver’s licenses to undocumented persons to 10! This will expand the capacity to appointments to 100,750 per year! Several of the new offices will be located on the Western Slope. See the list below for locations and tentative opening dates.
Thanks to State Senator Don Coram, representing District 6, who was one of the co-sponsors of this bill!
- Durango – September 2019
- Lamar – September 2019
- Pueblo – September 2019
- Sterling – September 2020
- Glenwood Springs – January 2020
- Alamosa – July 2020
- Montrose – July 2020
Benavidez Bill Increases Protections Against ICE
The scope of actions taken by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has expanded drastically in recent years. This bill (HB-1124) puts new restrictions in place on ICE activity in Colorado, providing protections for immigrants in the criminal justice system.
- Bans ICE holds. ICE holds are a practice where, due to an ICE request, law enforcement continues to detain someone beyond their scheduled date of release. This practice is no longer permitted without a warrant.
- Law enforcement must advise immigrants of their rights before an interview with ICE.
- Probation officers may not release information that identifies a detained person to ICE without a warrant.
Reduction of Maximum Sentence to Prevent Mandatory Deportation
Some criminal offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. This puts immigrants in a difficult situation, as a sentence of a year or more can trigger mandatory deportation. HB-1148 changed the mandatory minimum on certain offenses to 364 days, eliminating the possibility of an immigrant being deported for a low-level offense.
Withdrawal of Past Guilty Please to Prevent Mandatory Deportation
Persons who commit low-level offenses are sometimes offered what’s called deferred judgment. Essentially, the person pleads guilty in exchange for an agreement that his or her record will be wiped clean at the end of completion of a reduced sentence.
Unfortunately, immigrants are not eligible to have their records wiped clean with deferred judgment. Depending on the case, this could result in deportation. SB-030 allows persons who pleaded guilty in exchange for deferred judgment to go back and withdraw the guilty plea.
Financial Aid for All Students
HB-1196 allows undocumented students to get financial aid from the state.
Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government
This bill mandates funding for instruction in Colorado public schools to include American minority history, culture, and social contributions in both Colorado and the United States.
Census Grant Program
HB-1239 will create a statewide grant program to fund community outreach to secure an accurate count of all Coloradans in the critical 2020 Census.
Refugee Services Program
SB-230 will create the Colorado Refugee Services Program opening up a pathway for future funding to be allocated for refugee services.