Immigration Coalition Will Target Special Session Law

A coalition of immigrant rights organizations from around the state will be targeting two laws that were passed by the legislature last year. And one of the laws is a product of a special session called by Democratic leaders.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), an alliance composed of human rights and labor groups, will be leading the charge against Senate Bill 90 and House Bill 1017. HB 1017 came out of a special session lawmakers participated in over the summer that focused on immigration. The bill deals with employee verification, and was sponsored by Democrats.

SB90 was sponsored by Republicans and signed into law in May by former Governor Bill Owens. It requires members of law enforcement to notify the federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when there is “probable cause” that an arrestee might be illegal.

According to a Rocky Mountain News article, HB 1017 has left employers confused and anxious about enforcing the law:

But there’s evidence that employers are widely confused about how to comply with the new laws and what to do when the laws conflict with existing federal regulations.

“There’s nervousness out there as to how far is this going to go,” said Milo, whose association represents about 350 firms statewide that do highway construction.

The new laws “are troublesome because they’re vague and sometimes they conflict with current federal law,” Milo added.

In the legislature today, Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs) also spoke on the special session laws:

We also have been hearing from some who insist the curbs we passed on illegal immigration last summer are being too zealously enforced. As if that were the problem with illegal immigration. Governor, we also stand ready to sustain your veto of any attempts to roll back those reforms. We must continue to fight illegal immigration even when it’s not an election year.

But now those who are being affected the most by the new laws will be campaigning and organizing supporters around the state, to reform some of the perceived damage that took place last year.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at