Legislation to create a “purple card” state work visa program — housed in the Department of Labor and Employment — was proposed in the Colorado House of Representatives earlier this year. House Bill 1230 would allow undocumented individuals to apply for a state visa, which would allow them to remain and work in Colorado.
If the legislation passes, the visa program would be open to individuals who came to the U.S. as minors, have had no felony convictions in the past three years and have paid state income taxes for the two years prior to applying for the program. It would “make it easier for employers to request foreign workers for jobs that cannot be fi lled by the existing workforce.”
“This bill recognizes people’s right to work once inside the country, it doesn’t interfere with federal authorities’ right or power to continue to seek out those who entered the country illegally,” bill sponsor Rep. Dan Pabon said. “On some level we want to give employers and employees a semblance of clarity in the law, and given that many of these workers have worked in our state for years, they’re suddenly going to be left without anything even though they still may actually be in the country.”
Pabon said he believes there is no federal prohibition on a state implementing a work visa program like this and that states retain power under the 10th Amendment, which states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.”