Immigration

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Thirty-three Western Slope immigrants became official citizens of the United States in September, during a ceremony at Colorado National Monument. KVNF's Jodi Peterson interviews several of them about their stories, and what becoming a naturalized resident means to them.  She also talks to federal and academic experts about the process of becoming a citizen, and why citizenship is important for our communities and the nation.

  • Paonia Town Council to meet, discuss Town Administrator's actions
  • ICE activities on the Western Slope ramping up

  • Troops from Colorado Springs headed to Mexican border
  • Federal drought mitigation plans might not be enough
  • Enrollment for Affordable Care Act begins today
  • Colorado voters will have say in state health care benefits

  • Bull Draw Fire slows down under rainfall, burning over 30,000 acres
  • Immigrant in sanctuary at Carbondale church receives reprieve, now free
  • Historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park gets a strange visitor to its lobby

  • BLM to allow oil and gas development on land protected for sage grouse
  • Montrose city council will move slowly in possible sales tax raise for police
  • Race for Montrose County sheriff goes down to final overseas ballot counts
  • Vehicle used to transport slain Hotchkiss woman found in Utah
  • Cost of President Trump's immigration policies impacts states

  • New study indicates immigrants don't cause crime increase
  • Delta, Montrose County hospitals recognized
  • Colorado eager to host former Utah outdoors show
  • Colorado seniors to get help filing taxes

KVNF Regional Newscast: Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016

Mar 30, 2016

  • Arrests made in Paonia antler theft
  • Election officials: drop off municipal ballots in person instead of mailing
  • Hickenlooper discusses state budget
  • House committee gives OK to undocumented driver's license program expansion
  • Raton Basin most at risk place in Colorado for 2016 Quakes  

KVNF Regional Newscast: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016

Feb 17, 2016

  • I­-70 through Glenwood Canyon to remain closed until Thursday
  • New charges against suspected Mesa County deputy killer
  • Black Hills Energy acquires SourceGas
  • Trains transporting less coal
  • New bill wants to expand access for undocumented driver's licenses  

State lawmakers are debating whether terminally ill patients with less than six months to live should be allowed to take medication to end their own lives. It's just one of several controversial bills being debated under the gold dome.

A bill to expand a state program to offer driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Colorado will be introduced at the state capitol later in February. The original law [.pdf], which Democrats passed when they controlled both chambers in 2013, allows undocumented immigrants who have lived in Colorado for at least two years and have paid taxes to get a license, if they pay an extra fee.

"I want to know when I'm driving that the people driving next to me know the same rules as I do. Especially when you come from a different country, road signs might look different," said Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), sponsor of a new bill that would expand the program to 32 driver's license offices across the state.

"They deserve the opportunity to show that they are willing to be a part of our community, willing to play by the rules."

KVNF Regional Newscast: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015

Nov 17, 2015

  • Power outages affect DMEA customers
  • More snow forecasted for Western Slope
  • Shepherds get minimum wage increase
  • Hickenlooper says Colorado open to Syrian refugees
  • Local control over oil and gas development considered

saw peter, karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Saw Peter is Karen. That’s an ethnic group in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  And for more than 100 Karen refugees in rural Delta, Colo., he’s the go-to person for advice, translation and other essential information.

Like the other refugees in this community, life hasn’t been easy for Peter.

As a young man, he smuggled his family to Malaysia because the government in Myanmar seized their farm and threatened to kill them.

Small town doesn't quite describe Bethune, Colo. It spans just 0.2 square miles and has a population of 237. There's a post office, but it's open only part time. There's not a single restaurant, and the closest big store is in Kansas.

That didn't stop Ailyn Marfil from moving to Bethune a couple of months ago. In fact, she thinks it's a pretty exciting place to live. "I was looking for speed and action, and so Bethune gave me speed and action. More than I expected," she says.

Local Motion: Learning English As A Second Language

Sep 24, 2015
karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week on Local Motion, we explore learning English as a second language. First, we'll hear from University of Colorado, Boulder linguist Maria Thomas-Ruzic. She's worked in the ESL field for over 40 years. Thomas-Ruzic explains why English is a basic need for immigrants in the United States and the challenges adult learners face.

KVNF Regional Newscast: Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015

Sep 3, 2015

  • City of Montrose fronts almost a million dollars for new dispatch center
  • GED program in Norwood starts this month
  • State audit finds gambling funds were mismanaged
  • Refugees from Southeast Asia living in rural Colorado tackle the language barrier

karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

As anyone who's ever taken a foreign language class knows, it’s hard to learn another language. For immigrants to this country, that challenge can affect their whole lives. According to census data, in 2013, there were more than 25 million people in the United States with limited English proficiency.  And, in Colorado's rural Delta County, a group of refugees from Southeast Asia is trying to overcome this barrier. 

It's illegal to employ immigrants without documents. But through voluntary work programs in detention centers, the federal government employs thousands of undocumented immigrants. "The government, which forbids everyone else from hiring people without documents, has effectively become the biggest employer of undocumented immigrants in the country," says Carl Takei, an attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project.

The pay for an eight hour shift in a detention center is $1 a day, or roughly 13 cents an hour.

Colorado DMV Fee Changes Go Into Effect

Jul 15, 2015
Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles

As of Wednesday, it’s more expensive to get a driver’s license in Colorado.

The Colorado Division Motor Vehicles raised fees for driver services across the board.

It’s now $25 to get a driver’s license. It went up by four bucks. 

It also used to be free to retake the knowledge test or the driving skills test. Now, people have to pay to redo those exams. 

Additionally, the price of a license for an undocumented immigrant increased to about $80, nearly $30 more than last year. 

Daniel Majok Gai wants to go back to South Sudan.

He thinks he can help his homeland — the youngest nation in the world. Today marks the fourth anniversary of its independence. But there's little celebration. The country is being ripped apart by civil war.

Yet Gai, who suffered through years of violence and pain as a refugee, believes he can play a role in moving South Sudan toward peace and safety.

Against all odds, the 34-year-old is an incredible optimist.

He was 6 when a militia attacked his village.

Htoo Ler Moo, Karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Htoo Ler Moo was 7 years old when his family arrived in a refugee camp in Thailand.

Before going to the camp, his family lived in a tiny village in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where his parents worked in the fields.

In their village, they didn’t have electricity or running water. Htoo Ler Moo says they were safe until the soldiers came.


Local Nonprofit Now Providing Legal Aid For Immigrants

Jun 3, 2015
gavel, courtroom
Jake Ryan / KVNF

Two employees of the Hispanic Affairs Project, a Western Slope nonprofit, recently got certified to offer legal aid to immigrants. 

The organization is helping people who can’t afford to hire an attorney.  

"I’m an immigrant myself and I know how difficult, complicated and sometimes very frustrating the immigration process can be," said Marketa Zubkova with HAP. 

It took her two years to become an accredited legal representative.

Newscast

  • SMPA to give back $1.7 million to customers
  • Mesa County checks to see if anyone watches public access
  • US Forest Service releases plan for beetle kill, aspen decline  
  • Gov. Hickenlooper signs DUI bill into law
  • Biking festival returns to Paonia
  • Grand Junction resumes issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants 

driving
Flickr/cryptozoologist

The state’s Division of Motor Vehicles immigrant ID program is once again scheduling appointments. And next week the DMV will reopen two locations to handle applicants. 

The program started last year. It allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card. 

Originally, five DMV locations offered these IDs . And, the program is self-sustaining through fees.

Local Motion: Reporting On Immigrant Issues

May 6, 2015
Atlanta
Laura Palmisano

This episode of Local Motion is a reporter's notebook from Atlanta. KVNF's Laura Palmisano traveled there last month for fellowship training. She is one of 15 journalists from across the U.S. selected by the Institute for Justice & Journalism (IJJ) for its 2015 fellowship on immigrant families.

In Atlanta, the fellows attended workshops and presentations put on by immigration experts, reporters and advocacy organizations. Palmisano brought her recording gear to interview presenters and other journalists. 

An appeals panel in Florida has upheld a deportation order against a former defense minister of El Salvador, who is alleged to have presided over human rights violations in that country, including the murders of four American churchwomen in 1980. Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was allowed to retire in the U.S. in 1989. Now, a little known unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is trying to expel him as well as others charged with human rights abuses.

The political battle over immigration, now provoking a confrontation between Congress and the White House, touches all of us in one very direct way: our food. That salad mix, and those apples, may well have been harvested by workers who arrived here in the U.S. illegally.

Aleida Ramirez is proud of her old driver's license. It's faded and battered, held together by tape in two places, and it expired two years ago.

But Ramirez wouldn't think of throwing it out.

"Because it's my treasure," Ramirez says. "I mean, this is the only proof that I've been living in this state. This is the only proof that I have that I've been working hard, that I want to be here."

Colorado's new Republican Senate has majority flexed their muscles at the state capitol, using their power on the Joint Budget Committee to defund a 2013 law allowing people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver's license. They also struck down a bill to harmonize Colorado's civil unions law with a gay marriage ban that was deemed unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On top of that, a commission looking at pay equity between men and women was struck down.

With split legislative control and Democrats in charge of the House, how will this impact both parties politically?

The executive actions that President Obama announced Thursday are wide-reaching and complicated. Even the top-line numbers — such as how many people will be affected — are tough to pin down, because they are based on estimates of a population that Obama himself has said is living the shadows.

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