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Colorado Legislative Update: Increased Protections for Vulnerable Immigrant Youth, Reduced Criminal Penalties for Certain Low-Level Crimes, and A Check on Federal Immigration Enforcement by Local and State Law Enforcement Officers

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Colorado Legislative Update: Increased Protections for Vulnerable Immigrant Youth, Reduced Criminal Penalties for Certain Low-Level Crimes, and A Check on Federal Immigration Enforcement by Local and State Law Enforcement Officers

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June 5, 2019 | Contributed by: Jennifer M. Howard, Esq.

Colorado’s 72nd General Assembly has been no stranger to addressing pertinent, and often sensitive, issues affecting Colorado’s estimated half-million and growing immigrant population. In the last three months, the Colorado legislature passed seven pro-immigrant bills and sent them to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. Of those seven, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed four into law, to date:

  • HB19-1148: Signed into law on 3/28/2019, HB19-1148 changes the maximum penalty for all second-degree misdemeanors, misdemeanors without a fixed statutory penalty, and municipal ordinance offenses from 365 days to 364 days. This new law serves to avoid disproportionate immigration consequences, such as mandatory deportation, for lawful permanent residents and other immigrants with one minor contact with the criminal justice system.
  • HB19-1042: Also signed into law on 3/28/2019, HB19-1042 extends the jurisdiction of the court for guardianship proceedings and parental allocation of responsibilities proceedings for certain unmarried youth under 21 years of age who are seeking findings from the court that may support an application for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification under federal law. This new law clarifies that juvenile courts exercising jurisdiction for certain purposes may also enter findings establishing eligibility for SIJ classification under federal law.
  • HB19-1196: Signed into law on 5/13/2019, HB19-1196 makes available over $160 million dollars in financial aid each year that was previously unavailable to college students without lawful immigration status. Now in-state students without legal status will be immediately eligible to request financial aid and assistance. For more information on funding eligibility, please click here: https://www.immigrationissues.com/immigration-news/victory-colorado.
  • HB19-1124: Signed into law on 5/28/2019, HB19-1124 prohibits state and local law enforcement officials from arresting or detaining a person solely on the basis of a civil immigration detainer and prohibits probation officers from providing a person’s information to federal immigration authorities without a warrant issued by a federal judge or magistrate. Additionally, it requires law enforcement officers to provide an “advisement of rights” to immigrants ahead of coordinated interviews with ICE agents while in jail or another custodial facility.

Remaining on the Governor’s desk are: SB19-030, concerning the withdrawal of improperly entered guilty pleas; SB19-139, concerning the expansion of the number of DMV offices handling Colorado’s “special” driver’s licenses for undocumented persons from 3 to 10 offices; and SB19-230, concerning the administrative composition and operations of the Colorado refugee services program. We will continue to monitor the status of these bills and other legislative measures affecting Colorado immigrants and nonimmigrants and write about them here as they develop.

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