DENVER — In an effort to provide services to its immigrant and refugee population, the Office of New Americans (ONA) within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has two new programs designed to support individuals who now call Colorado home: the Virtual, Career-Aligned English as a Second Language Program, and the Immigration Legal Defense Fund.
The Virtual, Career-Aligned English as a Second Language (VCESL) Program provides digital platforms that are specifically designed to equip adult English Learners with sector-specific courses to help them successfully enter Colorado’s growing workforce. This program will provide a career-based ESL curriculum to Colorado’s English Language Learners (ELLs) in the hopes of expanding new opportunities for Colorado’s New Americans and expanding and upskilling the talent pool for employers. The VCESL Program will also work to provide additional support to help employers and other workforce development stakeholders recruit, serve, hire, and retain ELLs in the state. The program is one way the Office of New Americans is helping to create a stronger workforce, while supporting ELLs to utilize more of their strengths and talents for themselves, their families and for Colorado’s economy.
"I am thrilled about Colorado’s VCESL Program," said Office of New Americans Director, Dee Daniels Scriven. "Not only will it upskill ELLs and expand the talent pool for Colorado’s workforce, but it will provide many New Americans with the ability to gain the English skills they need to compete for better opportunities. It will also help prevent brain waste and help ELLs acquire the English they need to be able to showcase their talent and skill. The VCESL program is a win/win for Colorado’s workforce and for New Americans."
ONA will also administer the Immigration Legal Defense Fund (ILDF), which was created to help Coloradans and those detained in Colorado with their immigration court proceedings in order to promote due process, strengthen family unity, increase judicial efficiency, and protect civil liberties. Individuals in immigration proceedings with legal representation are much less likely to be detained and deported than those without it. The consequences of detention and deportation are deeply harmful to individuals and their families, but also to Colorado’s economy, through the direct and indirect costs of detention to employers and state and local governments.
Through the ILDF, ONA is awarding approximately $350,000. Seventy percent of these funds are legislated to serve those detained in Colorado, with 30% of the funds to serve non-detained individuals, two-thirds of whom are residing outside of the Denver metro area.
This year, through a competitive application process, a panel selected Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) to provide immigration legal services to detained clients at the GEO detention center in Aurora, and Mountain Dreamers to provide immigration legal services to non-detained clients outside of the Denver metro area in the central mountains.
ONA’s vision is that all New Americans have equitable access to opportunity and well-being. The mission of ONA is to facilitate the integration and inclusion of New Americans into Colorado’s civic, social, and economic life. For more information about ONA, please sign up for its monthly newsletters or visit cdle.colorado.gov/offices/
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