Governor Jared Polis issued a directive this week to his state departments and agencies prohibiting them from sharing information with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service for civil compliance.
Before the coronavirus public health crisis unleashed in the state, Senator Julie Gonzales was working with the Meyer Law Office on a bill that would prevent ICE from using state databases such as those of the Department of Motor Vehicles to track immigrants. It took a backseat as lawmakers focused on the coronavirus response and budget cuts.
But concern over ICE's use of state information to deport immigrants increases as people try to access assistance during a pandemic and economic closings, so advocates have been working with Polis to find another way to extend the protections.
"There is a lot of anxiety that people are facing," Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, said earlier this month.
The guide requires that state agencies do not request or disclose information about a person's immigration status, except as required by state or federal law, for a lawful law enforcement purpose or as authorized by the governor. That includes not providing it solely for federal civil immigration law enforcement. It also establishes the requirements for keeping a record of written requests and providing quarterly reports. Agencies have 30 days from Wednesday to adopt the policies.
"Our communities are better and safer when all residents fully participate in society, including by engaging with their state government and accessing all that the government has to offer," Polis said in the document obtained by Up News Info. "Everyone should feel welcome to be recipients of state services without fear of abuse of their privacy or data."
Arash Jahanian, director of civil rights litigation and policy for the Meyer Law Office, said the goal of the bill was to detain ICE from state "data mining,quot; databases, but that is not covered in the governor's directive.
“Is the guide a step in the right direction? Yes, absolutely, ”said the director of the Meyer Law Office, Hans Meyer. But does it prevent ICE from extracting databases from the DMV? No. Is personal information from immigrant communities safe from ICE access? No. There is still a lot of work to do. ”
An ICE spokeswoman in Denver said the agency is still reviewing the directive. ICE officials have denounced policies that impede cooperation from local or state agencies, saying they target law enforcement for the people who pose the greatest threats to public safety and border security.
Governor's office spokesman Conor Cahill said the guide is not an executive order, which advocates initially expected, but rather a guide on how agencies should treat data requests to "protect the data of all residents of Colorado,quot;.