Colorado State Immigration Laws
Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of existing immigration rules in Colorado state. This article aims to provide an easy-to-understand and comprehensive overview of immigration laws.
Below you will find information about the following:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Colorado
- Employment checks
- Colorado E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license or ID requirements
- Public benefits restrictions
- Education restrictions
- Voter ID rules
- Hire an immigration lawyer
The dynamic between federal and state law often causes confusion. Whether you live in Aurora or Denver, this article is relevant to all Coloradans.
Immigration law enforcement matters that are typically dealt with by federal immigration authorities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its branches oversee matters related to immigration. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a component of the DHS. This agency administers naturalization and immigration services in the country.
But state agencies will often coordinate with the federal government on immigration issues. For example, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) oversees programs relevant to immigrants and refugees. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) handles workforce issues. Immigrants with questions about labor and professional licenses may seek help from this department.
Many local law enforcement officials are also starting to help with immigration cases. For example, look at a "Secure Communities" policy enacted in 2017 through Executive Order.
Under Secure Communities, local police would fingerprint the people they arrested. Those fingerprints went into a database that DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shared. DHS used this shared information to verify the immigration status of the person arrested. If the system flagged a person as an undocumented immigrant, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could take action.
The Biden administration revoked the Secure Communities Order in January 2021. A similar data-sharing arrangement still exists. But a person's identity generally only enters the database once they have been convicted of a crime.
Under federal law, employers must verify prospective employees' authorization to work. For more information, refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9.
Under the revised Colorado statute, all employees working for public contract services must use E-Verify. This rule checks employees' eligibility to work as a public contractor for services. State agencies are also prohibited from contracting with or hiring contractors who intentionally hire people living in the U.S. illegally.
Before working with a public contract, contractors must certify that they do not hire immigrants here illegally to perform public contract services. Furthermore, the contractor must take part in the E-Verify program of the Colorado government. This confirms the employees' work eligibility to perform public contract services.
To receive a Colorado driver's license or state ID, an applicant must establish proof of the following:
- Name and identity
- Lawful presence in the United States
The Department of Revenue in Colorado gives a list of documents that people can use to prove these requirements.
Federal law bans those living here illegally from getting public benefits. But they can use emergency services, health care, and other programs identified as "necessary to protect life and safety."
The laws in Colorado prohibited immigrants living here illegally from getting in-state tuition rates. But, lawmakers repealed this rule in 2013 with the passage of the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow Bill (ASSET).
Since the passage of ASSET, the education restrictions changed. Now, even students with unlawful immigration status can get in-state tuition. To qualify, students must meet specific requirements. These requirements are discussed in detail in the Senate Bill 13-033.
ASSET was a significant step for immigrants in attaining higher education. This particularly applies to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and students without documentation. DACA protects eligible young adults from deportation after their parents brought them to the United States as children. It also gives these young adults work authorization for limited periods. Those periods of work authorization are renewable.
Colorado law requires identification at the polling booth. But, the voter ID rules in Colorado are less restrictive compared with other states. In Colorado, voters may use non-photo IDs to establish their identity. Some examples of acceptable non-photo IDs include the following:
- Copy of a paycheck
- Recent utility bill
- Bank statement
If unable to provide acceptable identification, the voter can cast a provisional ballot. Then, they can verify their identity later with the proper authorities. Recent legislative efforts to force Colorado voters to provide photo IDs have fallen short. But voters may want to check their election paperwork or contact election officials to verify the ID law.
When trying to figure out the best way to handle immigration issues in Colorado, it is crucial that you know your rights. Immigration law in itself is already challenging to understand. The pressure to understand this law escalates when you or your family members are dealing with immigration issues. This includes issues with naturalization or preventing deportation and removal.
But it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are various immigration services available that apply to your case. Immigration attorneys can offer legal services and legal representation. They can help protect your civil rights in immigration court.
Colorado immigrant rights coalition and other nonprofit organizations also have hotlines. Immigrants can call them for guidance and advice. They offer advocacy and support services for immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. For Spanish speakers, some organizations have people that speak Spanish. This ensures that everyone gets the help they need.
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Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.