After activist probe, legislature looks at limiting immigrant data sharing with Feds

The GEO ICE facility in Aurora.

DENVER  | Colorado lawmakers will introduce a bill to establish guidelines on how personal information can be shared with federal agencies.

The proposed legislation announced Thursday at a press conference with state lawmakers and immigrant rights groups, is a response to emails obtained through an open records request by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition which revealed “unsanctioned data sharing” between the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles and ICE agents.

Arash Jahanian, director of policy and civil rights litigation at the Meyer Law Office in Denver said there were hundreds of families potentially affected by the data sharing.

“When allowed, ICE mines the personal information entrusted to state agencies to carry out its lawless mission, turning state officials who should be serving and protecting their residents into ICE’s henchmen to the detriment of the community,” Jahanian said.

Under the bill, personal information cannot be used for immigration enforcement, Jahanian said. Personal information would only be disclosed for criminal law enforcement with a warrant, subpoena or another order signed by a judge.

Due to the health and economic concerns of the coronavirus pandemic, compounded with the trauma of immigration policy under the Trump administration, Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver and one of the bill sponsors said the fear has caused undocumented families and individuals to withdraw and lose trust in local government.

“It is our responsibility in the state to ensure that all Coloradans have trust in our state agencies. That trust has been broken and its on us to make it right,” Gonzales said.

The fear of their undocumented status being shared has prevented many from accessing medical services, day care enrollment and food banks, according to Maria Albañil-Rangel, Immigrant Advocacy Coordinator with Tri-County Health Network.

The fear has also affected immigrant communities during the pandemic with hesitancy towards contact tracing and receiving a vaccine.

Colorado announced that the state would not require an ID for vaccine access. But Sen. Gonzales said that “fear is an overriding emotion” and still prevents families from wanting to put themselves at risk.

Albañil-Rangel shared her own experience with two undocumented parents. Her father was deported in 2012 and she feared the same for her mother.

“Every day I lived in a constant fear that by outing my mother, even if it was in scholarship application, I ran the risk of losing her too. And that is the reality that most of our families are facing,” Albañil-Rangel said.

The bill will be introduced after the Colorado lawmakers return to the Capitol for the 2021 legislative session on Feb. 16.


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1 year ago

So you believe it is fair for illegal aliens (dictionary definition for folks from other countries, who came to USA, without invitation), to drive on streets at night, or crash into my vehicle, pushing my vehicle into another, as happened few years ago. That illegal driver only paid $100 charge for not having driver’s license or insurance on his vehicle, and my company had paid the woman, as though I caused the damage to her car. I wrote to Colorado state, and they backed my company off, and continued my insurance at same rates for next 3 years, where they had intended to raise my premiums.
———— Everyone in USA, should be a citizen, or working to become one, unless here for set period, for a specific purpose, THEN GO HOME. My emigrant grandparents came to this country under laws and policies of their time, legally, and complied with requirements. (1 from Germany in 1870, and other from Wales (year unknown). Wife traced her family back to William, the Conqueror, from England and Scotland). Legally in colonial days.