Colorado Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to congressional leadership on Wednesday calling on them to provide “a pathway to earn citizenship” for immigrants who may have entered the country illegally.
“By paving a sustainable pathway to citizenship, our nation can give our immigrant community members the peace of mind they deserve while also powering Colorado and our entire country’s comeback from the pandemic,” the letter reads in part.
The governor’s letter comes after reports that Democrats are considering including immigration reform in their budget plan.
According to a study by the New American Economy, a bipartisan research center, immigrant households shared a disproportionately higher share of essential jobs in Denver during the pandemic.
Despite accounting for 16% of the state’s population, immigrants held 23% of transportation and warehouse jobs, and 23% of food service jobs, the research says. Immigrants also comprise over 30% of business owners in construction and own 21% of service industry businesses as well.
In a statement accompanying the letter, Gov. Polis reiterated “[Colorado’s] immigrant community has always played an integral part in nearly every part of our economy. But even more so throughout this pandemic, it was clear that immigrants are vital to powering our nation’s economy.”
In February, the Common Sense Institute, a free-enterprise think tank, found that immigrant communities in Denver paid approximately $781.4 million in taxes and have a spending power of over $2.4 billion. The study also found there are 5,879 immigrant entrepreneurs in Denver.
“I have always been a believer that we are a nation of laws and immigrants,” the governor also said in the letter. “That is why we must build an immigration system that is humane and orderly and rooted in justice and enforceability.”
“A system that we can be proud of includes a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans because as we emerge from this pandemic, we need every worker, every neighbor and every friend to contribute to our nation’s economy and to our communities,” he added.
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