Owens Signs Immigration Law

Starting Tuesday, the country's toughest law on illegal immigration is on the Colorado books.

It will deny benefits to those who can't prove they're here legally.

Signing off one last time as Colorado's governor, ten new laws have Bill Owens’ approval.

One of them takes direct aim at more than a quarter million people he says are here illegally.

"This number impacts all of us, and unless steps are taken, the number will continue to grow," said Owens.

Less than 24 hours after getting Owens’ signature, house bill 1023 takes effect, essentially denying most non-emergency government services such as welfare, to those who can't prove they're here legally.

A swift move, taking place only three weeks after the special session ended.

"Anyone legally entitled to services will receive them and also it makes sure those who aren't entitled aren't allowed to receive these services," Owens said.

Proof will require one of four types of identification: a Colorado driver's license or I-D card are the primary forms. County employees around the state are expected to be prepared to ask for the documents when people apply.

The question is, is it too big of a change all at once?

"August first is pretty early," said Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, M. Michael Cooke.

Cooke helped craft emergency rules as a safety net in case legal residents apply, but can't provide an I-D. Those rules will be in place when the law kicks in August first.

"I think we'll be ready to move forward [Tuesday]," said Cooke.

House bill 1023 would not affect people under 18 years old, individuals who are already receiving benefits, or those seeking prenatal care and temporary disaster relief.

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