State: Owens signs illegal immigration crackdown bill |

State: Owens signs illegal immigration crackdown bill

— Gov. Bill Owens signed a tough package of immigration laws on Monday that could force 1 million people receiving state and federal benefits to prove they are U.S. citizens.

To handle an expected avalanche of people seeking waivers so they can keep getting government benefits while they line up the ID documents they need, Owens designated 32 driver’s license bureaus and opened an office at the Capitol to process their requests. A waiver will extend the deadline for producing the required ID until March 1.

The key legislation, House Bill 1023, requires government agencies to verify process that adults over 18 are entitled to the benefits.

Applicants will now have to provide secure photo identification, sign an affidavit that they are U.S. citizens and get their application approved through the federal System Alien Verification for Entitlements, also known as the SAVE program.

The only acceptable documents include a Colorado driver’s license, an official state ID, U.S. military or Coast Guard Merchant Mariner or Native American tribal documents. U.S. passports are excluded because state officials said they were not secure.

Other bills include measures passed during a special session earlier this month that limit economic grants to U.S. citizens, requiring job applicants to prove they are citizens, and require proof of citizenship for state and local agencies issuing permits.

“This legislation will make a positive difference in the future of Colorado,” Owens said.

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