Problems Facing the First Generation of Local Immigration Laws

Colorado made national headlines in 2006 when it passed a series of controversial measures requiring applicants for most state benefits to prove legal immigration status before obtaining that benefit. Signed by out-going Governor Bill Owens, the law makes proof of legal immigration status a prerequisite to obtaining most forms of public assistance (for example, disability payments) and state-issued licenses for professionals and commercial enterprises (for example, licenses for insurance agents and physicians). The law also requires Colorado employers to verify their employees’ legal immigration status or risk hefty fines (up to $5000 for a first offense and up to $25,000 for subsequent offenses).

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