Gov. Jared Polis presser

Gov. Jared Polis as an Oct. 10, 2019, news conference regarding insurance rates at the state Capitol.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced on Friday the creation of a New Americans Initiative, a working group that will advise the governor’s office on immigrant and refugee issues.

Kit Taintor, Polis’s senior advisor for new American integration, will examine hurdles to success for Colorado’s immigrant population and identify legislative or administrative fixes.

“Removing barriers immigrants and refugees face from access to childcare, to occupational licensing and education, will make Colorado a welcoming and prosperous place for New Americans,” said Taintor in a statement.

The governor’s office said that the state is using nonprofit grant funding and an existing working group in the Department of Labor and Employment to facilitate Taintor’s work.

Michigan, Ohio and Nevada already have state offices. Michigan’s Republican governor created the department in 2014, and this year it was renamed the Office of Global Michigan. It is responsible for helping highly skilled immigrants find jobs and to provide refugee services. 

In Nevada a bill to create such an office passed the Nevada legislature in May. However, opponents worried that the initiative would reward or encourage undocumented immigration.

Polis’s office said that as federal support decreases for immigrant populations, states are trying to add resources. According to the American Immigration Council, nearly one in 10 Colorado residents is an immigrant.

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