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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

Sine die: Immigrants win big in the 2021 legislative session

The 2021 Colorado Legislative Session has officially come to a close.

We supported 14 pieces of legislation, of which 13 passed. Almost every immigration-related bill introduced with support from Voces Unidas and other community groups passed this session.

Thanks to the hard work of community organizations and brave lawmakers, undocumented women now get access to contraceptives through a state program. Racist language passed in 2006 has been repealed in 2021. Undocumented entrepreneurs now qualify for state business licenses. Colorado becomes the first state to protect the privacy of state data, blocking ICE from using it to target our community. A new legal defense fund is now a reality for people trapped in immigration proceedings. Agriculture workers in Colorado now have basic labor rights. From top to bottom, Latino and immigrant communities won big.

A monumental legislative win like this should be cause for celebration. Each successful bill represents a victory for our communities.

It's safe to say that our policy team, including our new Policy and Advocacy Manager, Jacqueline Argueta, were all busy throughout the session.

For being our very first legislative session as a new organization, Voces Unidas had a significant presence at the Colorado State Capitol throughout the session. We joined coalitions. We were at the Capitol physically. We met with lawmakers. We had members of our community advocate for themselves.

Thank you to all who took action and participated in this session. Together, we are making Colorado a better place for all of us.

Here is a breakdown of each bill, including its description and the status after the closing of the legislative session.

SB 77: Remove Lawful Presence Verification

Eliminates the requirement to verify legal status by the Dept. of Education and Dept. of Regulatory Agencies before issuing professional, occupational and business licenses. This includes lice senses for barbers, cosmetologists, medical professionals and plumbers.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Polis

HB 1054: Housing Public Benefit Verification Requirement

Eliminates the requirements that people prove legal residency to qualify for state housing programs, including those offering vouchers, down payment assistance and home rehabilitation.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Polis

HB 1060: U Visa Certification

The bill would create a time frame for obtaining a U Visa by creating a deadline to the process of obtaining a U-Visa to avoid undue delay and facilitate a timely response to avoid deportation for applicants. U-Visa is a type of visa that is granted to immigrants who are victims of a crime, having suffered either physical or mental abuse but are cooperating with law enforcement in investigation and prosecution of said crime.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Polis

HB 1075: Replace Term Illegal Alien

Removes the term “illegal alien” from state contracts for services and replaces it with the term “worker without authorization.” The term “illegal” is derogatory and dehumanizing.

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Polis

SB 199: Remove Barriers to Certain Public Benefits

Would remove a broad state prohibition on providing state and local public benefits to undocumented people, including housing assistance, welfare and food assistance. It also gets rid of the requirement to prove legal status in order to obtain a professional, occupational or business license.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

SB 9: Reproductive Health Care Program

Would use state general fund dollars to pay for birth control and related counseling for low-income immigrants who would otherwise be eligible for coverage if not for their lack of citizenship or legal residency. Services would include a 12 month supply of any contraceptive drug, device, or product approved by the FDA, services for inserting or removing birth control devices and administering or managing birth control and its side effects, and counseling related to birth control and reproductive care.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

SB 131: Data Privacy Bill

Prohibits state agencies and their employees from sharing a broad range of private personal information for the purposes of cooperating or assisting ICE agents. This bill would also prevent state agencies from collecting information such as birth date, immigration status, except for an agency's official duties including to see if eligible to qualify for benefits. Private personal information would include: birth date, social security, tax ID number, photographs, medical or financial information, home or work address, family or contact information, license plate number or car registration information. Third parties requesting data would be required to promise not to use the information provided to aid immigration agents.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

HB 1150: Office of New Americas

This bill would create an Office of New Americans within the Dept. of Labor and Employment. The office's purpose would be to serve as a center for immigrant-focused programs, policies and services statewide and tasked with formulating a statewide strategy as well as recommendations for supporting immigrants and their families. The office would work in partnership with nonprofits and community organizations to reduce barriers to employment and help provide assistance and resettlement support to refugees.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

HB 1057: Extortion of Immigrants

Prohibits a person from threatening to report an immigrant’s citizenship status for purposes of extortion to authorities.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

HB 1318: Create Outdoor Equity Grant Program

Creates an outdoor equity program that addresses historic systemic, economic and demographic disparities of equitable access to Colorado’s outdoor recreation. It promotes access for racially and ethnically diverse youth and their families.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

SB 87: Agricultural Workers’ Rights

Would essentially create a Farmworkers bill of rights, affording farmworkers with overtime pay, meal and rest breaks.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

HB 1194: Immigration Legal Defense Fund

Creates an Immigration Legal Defense Fund to award grants to groups providing legal representation to people who are facing deportation but unable to afford an attorney. Groups helping clients facing deportation would receive 70% of the grant money.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

HB 1266: Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community

Would identify impacted communities and require outreach by creating an environmental justice action task force.

Status: Passed. Before Gov. Polis

SB 200: Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice

Would mandate the state begin cutting its climate-warming pollution, enforcing the largely voluntary greenhouse gas reduction “Roadmap” passed two years ago.

Status: Did not pass. Moved to next legislative session


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