Hickenlooper voices opposition to latest Trump administration anti-immigrant effort

Advocates fear the proposed “public charge” changes could discourage immigrants from using necessary services.
2 min. read
Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Colorado Democratic Party’s election night party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Alyson McClaran for Denverite)

Gov. John Hickenlooper is asking President Trump's administration to withdraw its proposed public charge modifications, which state agencies fear could drive away immigrants from using valuable public services.

Hickenlooper's office on Tuesday released a letter addressed to Samantha Deshommes at the Office of Policy and Strategy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The letter was dated Monday, which was the last day for public comment on the proposed changes on a draft proposal that would affect how the feds consider an immigrant's application for residency.

DHS released their proposal in September. The changes would ensure people seeking to stay in the U.S. "temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits," according to a release from DHS.

Calling Colorado "the proud home to more than half a million immigrants," Hickenlooper said in the letter that immigrants "help fuel Colorado's economy and enrich the fabric of our communities."

He added that the proposed changes will, "hurt hard-working families trying to come to the United States, and those who are here legally."

"Colorado has worked hard to build the nation's strongest state economy," Hickenlooper writes in the letter. "Our goal is to ensure all residents can participate in that success. We strongly oppose federal action that makes it harder for certain segments of our population to participate in that prosperity."

Five other state agencies have urged DHS to withdraw their proposal. They believe the changes could have a chilling effect on enrollment with programs like Medicaid, SNAP and housing assistance.

Last week, Governor-elect Jared Polis said he would be open to the idea of establishing an Office of Immigrant Integration in the Governor's Office. Pro-immigrant advocates in Colorado cited their worries over the potential public charge changes as a concern for ensuring they have a seat on the table when considering immigration policy.

Vox reported more than 150,000 comments were mailed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services over the 60-day public comment period.

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