New era on immigration

Cross Posted from DeMediacratic Nation

The grand experiment in Colorado begins….

From The Denver Post:

Gov. Bill Owens on Monday signed a package of controversial immigration bills he called the toughest in America – though he wanted tougher – launching a variety of government changes designed to trim Colorado’s welfare and public- service rolls of illegal recipients.

“My goal is to stem the tide of illegal immigrants coming into Colorado,” Owens said before signing into law 10 bills from a special session of the legislature he convened last month.

Barring another special session, they are the last new laws of Owens’ eight-year administration, which ends Jan. 1.

“The legislature failed to enact common-sense solutions in several areas that require real and necessary reform,” Owens said of his call for tougher immigration laws. He also said his biggest disappointment was that Initiative 55 isn’t on the November ballot.

The initiative would have directed the legislature to detail the services off-limits to illegal immigrants.

One of the new laws, effective today, requires applicants for public benefits such as welfare to provide proof that they are legally in the United States. Other new laws – such as those requiring residency identification from applicants for professional licenses ranging from physicians to cosmetologists and for employers to certify employees’ legal status – are effective Jan. 1.

State agencies Monday issued emergency rules including a critical expansion in the number and types of documents people can use to prove their legal presence in the United States.

Key are Department of Revenue rules adding six additional documents to the four approved by legislators, which include a Colorado driver’s license or identification card, a tribal document or a military ID card.

Revenue Director M. Michael Cooke added certified birth certificates or adoption records, U.S. citizenship or naturalization papers with an attached photograph, valid driver’s licenses from 33 states and foreign passports with active visas.

Additionally, Cooke established a waiver process in which entitled individuals who lack any of the approved documents, such as the homebound or the homeless, can be temporarily certified in a state-run database to obtain benefits by attesting to their legal status and identities.

All benefit applicants also must sign an affidavit attesting that they are here legally.

About 1 million Coloradans receive some form of public aid, and Owens has estimated that about 50,000 of them are in the country illegally.

Cooke said her agency is shifting resources and personnel to various centers statewide to prepare for questions from people who might be confused about their access to benefits. An annex next to the state Capitol will be opened to handle waiver applications beginning today.

Benefit agencies and businesses that serve them are uncertain of the laws’ immediate impact.

“We’re just not sure how this is going to play out yet,” said Daria Serna, spokeswoman for Jefferson County Human Services.

In Denver, administrators said they will hold meetings with staffers on the new laws.

“It’s fairly complicated for various programs, but they will be shown what additional verifications need to be done,” said Sue Cobb, spokeswoman for Denver’s Department of Human Services.

The availability of waivers for those without proper documentation pleased advocates for the homeless.

“It sounds pretty thorough and establishes a process that would allay some of our major concerns,” said John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Waivers will be granted only to three types of individuals applying or reapplying for public benefits who can demonstrate lawful presence: those too ill or unable to travel to apply in person; those without a permanent residence; and those without the documents necessary to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card.

Anyone approved for the one- time waiver will be given an “electronic-identification indicator” in a state-run database that verifies a person’s eligibility to receive benefits.

Agencies doling out the benefits must verify that an applicant is the same person listed in the database, Cooke said.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.**

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