New state immigration panel convenes

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s office has announced who will participate in a state task force meant to look for gaps in immigration enforcement following three tragic deaths allegedly caused by an undocumented driver more than a month ago.

According to a press statement from the office on Monday, 31 members from law enforcement, legislative and advocacy backgrounds will make up the panel, which includes state Department of Corrections Executive Director Ari Zavaras and a representative with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

In September, Francis Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, was accused of causing a car accident that killed three Aurora residents, one of them a 3-year-old boy.

It was soon discovered that Hernandez had managed to drive on state roads despite being arrested no less than 16 times for mostly misdemeanor offenses. Hernandez’s attorney has denied that his client was responsible for the collision.

Shortly after the accident, Ritter soon commanded officials at the state Department of Public Safety to create a task force to examine what problems are preventing local and federal police forces from better sharing information about suspected undocumented immigrants.

The panel is set to hold its next meeting Tuesday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the training room at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, 500 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colo.

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.

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