Legal immigrants in Denver are facing renewed hostility from the federal government if they work or have worked in Colorado’s legal cannabis industry. Claiming these immigrants are not of “good moral character” under federal law, immigration officials are denying their applications to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock and City Attorney Kristin M. Bronson condemn the Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr sent Wednesday, Mayor Hancock is seeking official guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to ensure “consistent implementation and enforcement of state marijuana laws” in more than 30 U.S. states.
“Denver understands the need for federal laws and regulations regarding citizenship and immigration, but we are seeing the heartbreaking effects that those federal laws and regulations are having on our residents,” Mayor Hancock said. “However, under current federal policy, lawful, permanent residents like the Denver residents I have met with are being denied naturalization and may lose their legal status based on their lawful employment in the cannabis industry.”
On Tuesday, Hancock and Bronson, along with Excise and Licenses Executive Director Ashley Kilroy, met two Denver immigrants who were told by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that they were ineligible for naturalization strictly because of their past or current employment in the cannabis industry. The immigrants – one from El Salvador, the other from Lithuania – have each been permanent residents in the U.S. for more than 20 years. They have both graduated from Colorado schools, paid their taxes and consider Colorado their home.