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While the rest of us were eating our turkey and dressing last week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging action to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in light of judicial threats to important protection for Colorado and the nation’s immigrant communities. Congress reconvened this week.

“Congress must ultimately act to pass fair and humane immigration reform, and protecting DACA recipients in law is a critical and timely first step,” wrote Polis in the letter to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader McCarthy.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis enters the House of Representatives chamber to make his first State of the State address to a joint session of the Colorado Legislature Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“As of 2019, only 64 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Colorado had applied for the protection, and the litigation which has stopped all processing of new applications is harming Colorado’s economy. Colorado needs workers to fill the labor shortages that are in our state,” the Governor’s letter continues.

“I call on Congress, without further delay during this lame duck session, to enact legislation that provides permanent solutions for Dreamers and immigrant youth. I stand in solidarity with immigrant communities and vow to continue supporting all immigrants living in our cities and counties and to continue to make Colorado, a Colorado for all. The time to act is now,” the letter continues.

More than one in every five residents of Colorado is of Hispanic origin. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, at 22.3 percent, the percentage of Hispanic and Latino residents is higher than the national average of 18.9 percent. Some places in Colorado have much higher Hispanic populations.

While Salida’s Hispanic population has grown about 0.2 percent per year and stands at 10.2 percent, some 35 percent of Lake County residents are Hispanic, while the school-age population hovers close to 70 percent. This makes addressing the needs of these residents of growing importance to this state.

Polis has continued to advocate for DACA as key to Colorado’s economic and cultural vitality throughout his time as Governor. The Polis-Primavera Administration has taken significant steps since taking office in 2018, to protect Colorado’s vibrant immigrant communities. In 2019, the Polis administration established the New American Initiative to help the state address barriers to immigrant integration in Colorado.