With broad bipartisan support, the Colorado Senate has passed a bill that will allow certain immigrants without permanent legal status to become certified police officers and carry firearms. The bill received 31 votes in favor and only 4 against in the state Senate’s final vote. This law aims to amend the training standards for police officers and law enforcement members in Colorado, making individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or those who have applied for asylum eligible to become certified active or reserve police officers.
According to the new law, individuals with a temporary immigration status who graduate from the police academy can only enter the academy while maintaining their temporary immigration status. If accepted as a police officer, the immigrant may “transport, store, clean and maintain his weapon outside of training hours”, subject to the written regulations of the employing agency. It’s worth noting that DACA beneficiaries may not purchase or carry other firearms, as doing so could lead to deportation.
The bill was promoted by senators Julie Gonzáles and Bárbara Kirkmeyer, as well as state representatives Ryan Armagost and Cathy Kipp. Senator Gonzáles noted that police departments and local law enforcement agencies have been suffering from understaffing, and this law represents an opportunity for immigrants and DACA recipients to step forward and serve in law enforcement.
Representative Armagost emphasized the importance of diversity and overcoming language barriers, especially in districts with a diverse community such as Weld and Larimer counties. Colorado is the second state to allow people without permanent legal status to become police officers. California passed a similar law in 2022, allowing anyone legally authorized to work in the state to join the police force. The new law is expected to take effect within 90 days automatically.