State Sen. Julie Gonzales and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez plan to put an end to Colorado's Department of Motor Vehicles sharing information with immigration enforcement authorities.
The Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition said it obtained more than 200 emails between the state agency and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The advocacy group characterized the state employees as "unofficial deputized immigration officers."
“The documents appear to be a request for information related to alleged violations of civil immigration law,” Chad Sublet, senior counsel to the Department of Safety in Denver, wrote. “Based on these facts, we are denying your request.”
Democrats have sought to ensure that state resources aren't used to do the federal government's job, as outlined in the law..
The two Denver Democrats' proposed legislation would shelter personally identifying information residents are required to submit to the state.
The legislative session resumes on Feb. 16.
CIRC said the immigrant community trusted state government when the state created its non-citizen driver's license program in 2013, and noted that Gov. Jared Polis has made substantive changes to the state's data privacy approach already.
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About 150,000 Coloradans obtained a driver’s license or ID card, because of that trust, CIRC said, and now it appears that trust is being "weaponized" against them through unsanctioned cooperation between the DMV and ICE.
“Trust between the community and our state has been broken," Gonzales said in a statement. "It’s been destroyed by ICE’s wrongdoings. And it’s up to us, in the state of Colorado, within our state government, to restore that trust through this bill. So I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to work, throughout the past year, with the agencies, the community, and the governor, to pass a guidance on behalf of the governor.”
Gonzales-Gutierrez said rebuilding trust is especially important now, as the state tries to distribute vaccines to hard-to-reach groups.
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"We continue to see disparities of who is actually getting the vaccine," she said. "I think we’ve all seen the reports, and once again immigrant communities are amongst the lowest rates of receiving the vaccine along with people of color and low income communities. I firmly believe that immigrant communities should have easy access to the vaccine just like anyone else.
"And the government, the state of Colorado, should be working to regain the trust of members of our community that are far too often left behind ... This bill will provide protections for Coloradans so that trust will be rebuilt in our communities.”