Special Session Law Evicts Legal Residents

Another problem has emerged regarding the state’s new immigration laws passed in a special legislative session last summer: legal residents being evicted from their homes.

Last week, the Aspen Daily News reported that Francisco “Kiko” Trincado, a legal resident from Chile, will be forced to leave his home because a new law requires that he have a state driver’s license or ID card in order to live in subsidized housing.

The problem? The documents Trincado needs to get such identification won’t arrive until the summer. From the article:

He offered to live somewhere else if his wife and baby can stay in the Aspen Country Inn apartment where they have resided since last spring. But housing officials say Kiko, Yvette and Tristan must all go.

“I didn’t expect this to be a problem at all because we’re married and legally he’s allowed to be here,” Yvette said. “That’s what’s so frustrating. I’ve been in Aspen almost 10 years and we got the apartment on my work history. I expected to be able to keep it and to suddenly lose my rights because I married someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen yet is really disheartening.”

Tom McCabe, director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, said families are qualified as “a household” and if one member of the household, like Kiko, doesn’t meet the required criteria, the entire household is disqualified. He said the housing office consulted with its attorneys who determined they should interpret House Bill 1023 in its strictest form to stay within the law.

Even more daunting is the fact that Colorado crafted some of the roughest identification standards in the country during the special session, which has lead to a slew of problems for individuals seeking IDs through the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles-so much so, that lawmakers are currently in the process of revamping the law.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s state patrol is gearing up to start checking the residential status of drivers they pull over in traffic stops and suspect of being undocumented. This is being implemented because of another special session law, and even lawmakers are concerned over racial profiling.

Colorado is now home to the toughest immigration laws in the United States, and residents are starting to experience the brunt of the new laws-laws that were crafted during the political fury of last summer’s special session.

And as a result, life is harder for those trying to do the right thing.

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.