By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado is unlikely to pass the state’s own version of a “green card,” but lawmakers will debate it in the aftermath of repeated failures in Washington to address immigration reform.
The bill, HB18-1230, would create a documented work status for immigrants, dubbed a “purple card.”
The bill would allow undocumented residents who have not committed a felony in three years and paid taxes for the last two years to become eligible for legal status.
“We have the ability to give some of our Colorado residents rights they would not otherwise have under the Constitution,” said Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver), the bill’s sponsor.
Republicans oppose the bill and call it unconstitutional. Even Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has voiced concerns over the proposal.
“I think the federal government has been very clear here,” said Rep. Cole Wist (R-Centennial).
Seasonal industries, like farming and landscaping, say a fix like the purple card is necessary to conduct business without going outside the law.
“I think my losses were around $2.5 million,” said Jesus Medrano, owner of CoCal Landscaping. “We didn’t have enough people to work on all of our properties.”
Medrano says delays in the H-2B visa program delayed his hiring until August of last year.
Supporters say the bill is not directly an immigration act, calling it a bill to support business and people already living in the state.
“What we’re saying is people who are on the job providing for families should be able continue do so despite what federal government is trying to do,” said Pabon.