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Colorado considering alternative to green card, the 'purple card'

Cropped Photo: Eric Ward / CC BY-SA 2.0
Cropped Photo: Eric Ward / CC BY-SA 2.0(KOSA)
Published: Feb. 14, 2018 at 7:58 AM MST
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Some Colorado state lawmakers say if Congress won't reform the immigration system, they will.

Legislation is under discussion in the state Capitol to give Colorado its own version of a green card.

It would be called a purple card.

Our sister station in Denver reports the bill would allow anyone who has paid state taxes for at least two years and has not had a felony in three years to be eligible for legal status.

This would make Colorado the first state in the country with its own legal work permit.

KCNC spoke with an immigrant from El Salvador, for whom potential deportation is looming after 18 years in the United States. Llani Duenes and many other El Salvador immigrants have been in the U.S. under a temporary protected status; in January the federal government announced they had until Sept. 9, 2019 to leave the country on their own or be deported.

"It will help me stay in this country longer," she said.

The bill's sponsor explained why he feels Colorado needs to step in to help people like Duenes.

"The alternative is two-fold. One, you’re either going to be relying on the social safety net that is going to have a lot of people asking for food banks and all these other things; or you’re going to have folks who are still going to work, but just work in the black market and neither of those is acceptable policy for us in Colorado," Rep. Dan Pabon told KCNC.

The man leading the purple card movement seconded Pabon.

"It benefits the state because they know who’s working where, and we know for sure they’re paying taxes," Omar Gomez told KCNC.

The bill would protect employers who hire people with purple cards from federal penalty but did not specify how, KCNC reports.

Not everyone in the state government is convinced it's a good idea, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said if it were to be considered, it should go along with "much more aggressive" enforcement of people paying workers under the table.