New Year Brings New Immigration Rules in Colorado Colorado now has the most stringent immigration laws in the country. As of Jan. 1, employers face new rules for checking the accuracy of documents presented at the time of hire. The change has construction, agriculture and tourism industries worried -- groups are holding training sessions. A law preventing illegal immigrants over 18 years old from receiving many state benefits went into effect recently.
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New Year Brings New Immigration Rules in Colorado

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New Year Brings New Immigration Rules in Colorado

New Year Brings New Immigration Rules in Colorado

New Year Brings New Immigration Rules in Colorado

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Colorado now has the most stringent immigration laws in the country. As of Jan. 1, employers face new rules for checking the accuracy of documents presented at the time of hire. The change has construction, agriculture and tourism industries worried — groups are holding training sessions. A law preventing illegal immigrants over 18 years old from receiving many state benefits went into effect recently.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Jeff Brady has more from Denver.

JEFF BRADY: To try and get a handle on the new paperwork and bureaucracy, a group of roofing and landscape companies got together recently in a hotel ballroom for a seminar on the immigration law.

GRAY GRISHAR: For you. How many actually own the business. You are the business owner? How does it feel to be a charger?

BRADY: Another of the speakers, Drew Durham, is with Colorado's Labor and Employment Department. He is the chief enforcer of the new law.

DREW DURHAM: We want employers to show due diligence in verification of legal work status.

BRADY: Landscapers and roofers, along with the agriculture and tourism industries, attract a lot of workers who don't have proper documents. But Durham says they won't be audited anymore than other companies.

DURHAM: Number one, we want to apply this law uniformly. We're not going to target anybody. It is going to be applied in all parts of the state.

BRADY: Wherever it's applied, it will cost companies money because it creates more work. Katherine King is the controller for a roofing company with about 100 employees. After the seminar, she says she understands most of the new law.

KATHERINE KING: I'd say 90 percent. I think there is 10 percent that nobody knows.

BRADY: Do you think that 10 percent is what's going to get worked out in court?

KING: Yeah. I think the 10 percent will make a lot of attorneys really rich. And it will be five to seven years before we know anything.

BRADY: King says she is also frustrated that Colorado has passed this new law. She says the federal government should be dealing with the issue. Immigration lawyer Ann Allott also spoke at the seminar. She says it's becoming increasingly clear that the federal immigration system is broken.

ANN ALLOTT: We've had a shadow community in the United States for over 30 years that has been growing. Our Congress has really failed to deal with this issue. And that's why governments like the state of Colorado are so frustrated in their inability to control what's happening within their states.

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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