New American communities have long played a vital cultural and economic role in Colorado, contributing to shared prosperity and wellbeing through their hard work, dedication, and love for our state. The community is growing and diversifying; today, one in ten Coloradans is an immigrant. In addition, over 600,000 Colorado residents (11% of the total) are native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent. Almost a full quarter of individuals living in Colorado are, or live with, an immigrant, which makes Colorado a state prosperous thanks to immigrants’ experiences and skills.
Colorado’s New American community is not a monolith. Coloradans from Senegal, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Iraq, Cuba, and Venezuela all call our state home. The top countries of origin for Colorado’s immigrants are Mexico (40% of immigrants), India (5%), China, (3%), Vietnam (3%), Korea (2.8%), Germany (2.8%) and Canada (2.7%).
At home, the top languages spoken by Coloradans other than English are Spanish 49.0%, Vietnamese 2.7%, Chinese 2.5%, Russian 2.1%, and Korean 2.0%.
Some areas of the state have larger immigrant populations than others, but immigrants call all corners of the state home. For instance, there are over 150 languages spoken in Aurora Public Schools, and in Denver metro, one in six business owners is an immigrant. Other areas of the state are equally as diverse: the Roaring Fork and Vail Valleys are home to immigrant families from Mexico, Guatemala, Mauritania, and El Salvador; agricultural communities like the San Luis Valley and the Western Slope welcome Latino migrant and seasonal workers as well as provide long-term homes for immigrants working in local economies; and Fort Morgan and Greeley in northeast Colorado have vibrant Somali and Burmese populations. In fact, Fort Morgan is Colorado’s only majority-minority community, where the majority of the city’s residents hail from minority populations! To learn more about Colorado's New Americans, check out the New American Integration Annual Report 2020. (Don't forget about the footnotes; the Report cites a lot of great resources!)
Joe Barela, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
In December 2018, Governor Polis appointed Joe Barela as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. In 2015, Joe served at the U.S. Department of Labor as a Senior Advisor; he helped coordinate the USDOL’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) at state and local levels. In his current role as the Executive Director of CDLE, Joe serves on the Business Experiential and Learning Commission, the Education Leadership Council, and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. He also serves on the board for the Center for Work Education and Employment, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies while also chairing their Labor Market Information Committee.
Dee Daniels Scriven, Director, Office of New Americans
Dee is the Director of the Office of New Americans. Prior to her work at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, she spent the previous twelve years working in the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, in various positions, but ultimately as Refugee Policy Counsel in the Division of Policy and Procedures. Dee’s background also includes work as a child abuse and neglect prosecutor, public defender, and as a volunteer attorney with a human rights organization in Peru. She studied at Colorado College and American University’s Washington College of Law. She can be found on LinkedIn and contacted at email@example.com.
Community Partner Spotlight
Immigrant & Refugee Center of Northern Colorado
The Immigrant & Refugee Center of Northern Colorado's mission is to empower refugees and immigrants, connect communities, and advocate for successful integration. In 2017, the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado began as a combined operation between Right to Read of Weld County and the Global Refugee Center. Becoming one, larger organization made sense for a variety of reasons, but it was the opportunity to provide further services to our clients that made the decision easy. Rather than providing English language training to some clients and Community Navigation services to others, we knew that we could be reaching everyone by making our services into one efficient, effective process.
- Colorado Refugee Services
- Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Minority Business Office
- Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs Immigrant Skills Guide
- Colorado Department of Health and Environment's Office of Health Equity
- Colorado Department of Local Affair's Division of Housing