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Since the election of President Trump and with the fate of the 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) recipients in question, five separate legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress in an attempt to resolve the DACA issue. The pending bills, the Dream Act of 2017, Recognizing America’s Children Act, the American Hope Act, the BRIDGE Act and the newest proposal, the Succeed Act, each have their own set of criteria, with four out of five of the proposals offering pathways to citizenship.

As discussed in this author’s previous article, on Sept. 5, the Trump Administration rescinded DACA. President Trump gave Congress six months to find a solution protecting the 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and preserving the lives that they built for themselves in reliance on their DACA permit. The six-month window closes on March 5, 2018. To date, Congress has not reached an agreement regarding DACA. However, in anticipation of Trump’s canceling DACA, a promise on which he campaigned, several options have been presented to Congress for consideration.

five legislative DACA proposal infograph

The names of the local DACA recipients are not published due to the sensitive nature of their stories, and because these recipients are affected by the recession of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order (“DACA”) implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012 finds itself in the center of controversy following the election of President Donald J. Trump. DACA paved the way for undocumented youth, known as Dreamers, to obtain work permits, attend school and obtain driver’s licenses in some states.

To be eligible for DACA, a recipient had to meet specific criteria, including age requirements and no criminal history. While DACA was not a pathway to citizenship, it did allow the recipient to apply for a two-year renewable permit. To date, there are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Photo courtesy of RCHS Facebook page

Routt County Humane Society (“RCHS”) is collecting items to be transported on behalf of “two generous and devoted RCHS volunteers from Craig, Colorado who have volunteered to take much-needed supplies to Texas shelters,” according to Jessica Scrobble, Animal Care & Adoption Technician with RCHS. Scrobble said the 22-foot trailer leaves Monday Sept. 4. RCHS will accept donations anytime between until 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3.

“The goal is to help both dogs and other animals in Houston and its surrounding cities. Because of the transport laws, we are unsure if we can bring dogs back but would be willing to do so if we had the opportunity,” said Scrobble.

As Aug. 15 marked the fifth anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) by the Obama Administration, many recipients remain uncertain of their DACA security under the Trump AdministrationThe attorneys general from 10 states notified the Trump Administration that if it does not phase out DACA renewals and disband the program by Sept. 5, they will challenge DACA in its entirety in a pending case in Texas District Court.

Since its inception, DACA’s approximately 800,000 recipients have received work permits and higher education opportunities. Proponents of DACA maintain that DACA recipients are a valuable part of our national and local economies. They hold positions such as teachers, nurses, physicians and serve in the military.

Proponents also maintain DACA recipients contribute to the economy due to the issuance of work permits. The income earned due to the permits gives recipients a chance to buy new homes, new cars, and other goods.


Integrated Community in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a non-profit organization that provides education, human resource, and immigration support to immigrants and long-term residents in Northwest Colorado.

Integrated Community started in 2004 at the local bookstore where Spanish-speaking community members could meet and socialize, said Sheila Henderson, Executive Director of Integrated Community. It has since moved into its own space and has grown into an organization with 2261 intakes and 924 clients in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Facebook Page/http://bit.ly/2wT25Td

Two Denver City Council members, Paul López and Robin Kniech, have proposed a city ordinance to foster community trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement and to promote public safety. According to Kniech and López, the Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act formalizes practices currently in place in Denver on three fronts and provides one new proposal.

First, the ordinance prevents the detention of individuals beyond their sentence term. Second, it prohibits city employees from requesting or recording of immigration status, unless required by state or federal law.

The third proposal is a new addition to current city policy: the ordinance prohibits city employees from sharing information for purposes of immigration enforcement unless the information falls under certain exceptions.

Fourth, the use of city resources for civil immigration enforcement is prohibited. Also, it prevents city officials’ cooperation with civil immigration enforcement. These prohibitions include not providing access to private areas of inmate facilities to federal officials.

The City Council’s Education and Homelessness Committee passed the Ordinance on Aug. 2, which means the ordinance now moves on to the full vote of the City Council. According to Colorado People’s Alliance, committee members Paul López, Robin Kniech, Stacie Gilmore, Paul Kashmann, and Wayne New voted in support of the ordinance while Kevin Flynn voted in opposition.

“‘Unfortunately, there are a lot of people still living in fear,’” López told The Denver Post. “‘It absolutely is unacceptable. We hope to clarify what our city is already doing and fill in those gaps,’” López said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Hancock has a proposed executive order that is similar to the city ordinance but with a few key differences that some argue do not go far enough in protecting the immigrants. For example, the mayor’s proposed order would allow deputies to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) officials of upcoming jail releases of those inmates wanted on immigration matters.

In contrast, the proposed city ordinance says ICE would not be informed of imminent jail releases of inmates wanted on immigration issues. However, López and Kniech told The Denver Post that deputies would notify ICE and hold the inmates if the ICE agents have a lawful arrest warrant issued by a judge or magistrate.

Chris Lasch, a professor of law at the University of Denver told the Denverite either proposal is likely to offend Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Lasch noted that the provision in Hancock’s proposed order allowing deputies to notify ICE of upcoming releases is a critical difference between the two proposals.

Lasch said allowing notification to ICE of an inmate’s impending release who is wanted on immigration charges could subject that inmate with an original charge of a traffic offense to deportation proceedings.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Colorado People’s Alliance, and Mi Familia Vota, community organizations that support immigrants’ rights on social and economic issues have voiced their support of the proposed ordinance and encouraged people to contact city council members. While the groups are grateful for Hancock’s support of the issue, many believe the mayor’s executive order does not go far enough.

Salvador Hernandez of Mi Familia Vota told The Denver Post “‘We’ve been trying to have this conversation with the mayor, but he hasn’t tried to engage with us to solve the problem,’” said Hernandez. “‘We’re still going to push for a city ordinance, which we think it is the appropriate way to do it, ’” he said.

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group opposed to the proposed city ordinance told The Denver Post that city council’s motivation behind the ordinance, to promote community trust and public safety, are a cover to gain political favor.

“‘This is purely political,’” said Mehlman. “‘It has nothing to do with police-community relationships,’” he said.

Denise Maes, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado public policy director, acknowledged to The Denver Post that “‘Mayor Hancock’s draft executive order is definitely a good start, and we applaud the city’s initiative to ensure that Denver remains a safe and welcoming city,’” Meas said.

One issue the ACLU has with the mayor’s executive order is the lack of permanency. A new mayor could rescind the executive order without council approval. Meas hopes the mayor and council can work together and enact a strong permanent ordinance.

The two proposals with alternative approaches to blocking federal immigration enforcement have potential to collide. The Denver City Council will vote on The Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act at its regular meeting on August 21. According to The Denver Post, it is unclear when the mayor plans on signing the executive order.

 

“Rather than seeing Autism as a disability, I prefer to see it as a different ability,” said Lisa Lorenz, Executive Director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program (“YVAP”).

Lorenz’s involvement with Autism came from having an autistic son, now 23, who went through the Steamboat Springs, Colorado school district from kindergarten through 12th grade. Lorenz was a 7th-grade science teacher for twenty years and the consummate activist for her son and others with autism to ensure they received the educational opportunities that would support them in reaching their goals.

Lorenz said it was a preschool teacher at Northwest Colorado BOCES who encouraged several of the mothers with autistic children to get together for support and brainstorming on how to be the best advocates for their children in the Steamboat Springs school system.  In 2002, the group formed the Yampa Valley Autism Program, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation.

In 2009 YVAP offered their first program, the Community Cultivation Program, which provides opportunities for the children to gain a sense of independence and confidence by working in an operating garden, growing and harvesting flowers, herbs, and vegetables, said Lorenz.

“In addition to the Community Cultivation Program, we offer Extracurricular Activity Support, Education Resources, Social Cognition Therapy, Respite Services for the families, and Support Group Meetings. We are also able to provide emergency financial, and family support as we recognize that the strain on families can be overwhelming,” said Lorenz.

Lorenz said having resources for the family is a critical component of the YVAP mission.

“Our goal is to have a healthy family. For a child to be successful, the family has to be healthy,” she said.

Lorenz said that advocacy and public awareness also serve as critical components of the Program, both concerning the individual autistic child and as to the families impacted.

“Autism impacts the whole family emotionally because autism is such an intensive disorder. It can be difficult to control, and there are so many unknowns. Will my child drive? Will my child work? Will my child go to college? Often the answer is ‘I don’t know,'” said Lorenz.

Babette Dixon, one of the founders of YVAP with Lorenz, said her son James, now 20, is independent and thriving in the Steamboat community, which Dixon credits to YVAP and its programs.

“James is an artist and has an electric bike which allows him to get to his studio on his own. His verbal skills exploded with the help of YVAP programs. He has the confidence to get around in the community by himself.  My dream is that every community could have such a program in place. The work is amazing. James would not be where he is without YVAP,” said Dixon.

For more information about YVAP and their programs, please visit the website at yampavalleyautism.org.

Autism and Learning