New immigration policies could put an added burden on Colorado

Article CAIRCO note: 
We know the millions that NY and LA paid for DACA recipients; what did Colorado taxpayers pay and why isn't this disclosed?
Article author: 
Mark K. Matthews
Article publisher: 
The Denver Post
Article date: 
5 March 2015
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

With Congress headed toward a cease-fire in the immigration fight, the debate now shifts to states such as Colorado and what they're doing to prepare for the executive action issued last year by President Barack Obama.

The reason is simple. If Obama's move comes to pass — and that remains uncertain because of an ongoing court challenge — then state and local governments will be left with the largely undefined task of helping an estimated 4 million residents come out of the shadows.

What that means and how much it will cost are open questions, but Gov. John Hickenlooper pointed to Colorado's struggles in providing driver's licenses for people in the country illegally as a prologue of what lies ahead.

"When we did our ... driving privilege cards, we had a very inaccurate estimation of what the demand would be — the demand was probably triple what we thought," said Hickenlooper during a recent visit here. "So we are being cautious in trying to be ready in terms of predicting of what the uptake will be...

"To qualify for Obama's 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, applicants had to meet a list of criteria, including providing a record of U.S. education or military service.

That prompted officials in New York City to spend $18 million on classes and legal services to help them, wrote Hunter, and forced the school system in Los Angeles to spend "hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime" to process transcripts ...

Similar issues are expected to crop up this time, he said in an interview, and local leaders should do what they can to get ready ..

.In the same vein, Texas has raised concerns about future costs on issuing occupational licenses, such as those required for electricians. With their new status, immigrants who had been in the country illegally and have training in better-paying fields — but who didn't seek those jobs because of fears of detention — may return to their old careers.

"By authorizing a large class of undocumented immigrants to work in the United States, the DHS Directive will expose Texas to the cost of processing and issuing additional licenses and benefits," noted the lawsuit ...

In seeking their new status, it's expected that immigrants now here illegally will have to provide a long list of information — from criminal history (if applicable) to proof they are the mother or father of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

This could to lead to heavy demand on the court system, said Jonathan Mattiello, executive director of the State Justice Institute, a quasi-government agency ..."

We just don't know how bad this is going to be," he said ...