The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is a statewide, membership-based coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth, community, business and ally organizations founded in 2002 to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees by making Colorado a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly state. CIRC achieves this mission through non-partisan civic engagement, public education, and advocating for workable, fair and humane immigration policies.
CIRC was founded in January 2002 when immigrants, immigrant rights organizations and allies united around a statewide driver's license campaign. While the license bill did not prevail, CIRC was victorious in building a permanent grassroots statewide movement.
With multiple federal immigration reform bills proposed in 2006, CIRC members and partners mobilized over 100,000 mostly immigrants at two rallies in 2006, further strengthening CIRC into a strong coalition with statewide presence. In the fall of 2006, CIRC hired its first paid staff, Julien Ross, who continued as the Executive Director until March of 2017, when Nicole Melaku became our new Executive Director. Since 2006, the coalition has responded to numerous workplace immigration raids, has established presence at the state legislature killing all anti-immigrant bills proposed since 2008, and has helped mobilized tens of thousands of New American and Latino voters to get out and vote, just to name a few significant achievements.
Needless to say, over the past 16 years CIRC has evolved from a very grassroots, volunteer-based effort to a strong coalition of over 75 member organizations working as a unified statewide voice for immigrant justice. CIRC currently has a staff of 17, and organizers in all five regions.
The 15-member Board of Directors consists of three member representatives per region, and this leadership body guides statewide campaign priorities and ensures that the organizational mission is carried out. Quarterly regional meetings, in addition to CIRC's annual statewide assembly, are carried out to check in with member organizations on campaigns, priority issues, provide capacity building and to strengthen regional and statewide collaboration.
CIRC's constituency consists of organizations that work with Colorado's immigrant and refugee population of approximately 497,105; of which 55.3% come from Latin America (49% from Mexico), 21.3% from Asia, 13.8% from Europe, and 5.1% from Africa. Of the 497,105, approximately 200,000 to 250,000 are undocumented, and make up the majority of the workforce in construction, service and agricultural industries. Additionally, Colorado has a foreign-born naturalized citizen population of 177,346.
CIRC is led by a strong membership network of immigrant-based organizing and advocacy groups leading the statewide movement. Since 2008 CIRC has continued expansion to represent more rural groups outside of Metro Denver.
"I want to offer my deep appreciation for the work that CIRC does to champion the cause of fair and humane immigration policy and your support of one of our state's most vulnerable populations. CIRC's commitment to partnering with local organizations has changed the landscape of immigration advocacy in the state of Colorado… Thank you again for the tremendous services that you provide to make life better for everyone who calls Colorado home."
- US Senator Michael Bennet
"On behalf of the Hispanic Affairs Project, I can say that CIRC has been instrumental in empowering, organizing and uniting immigrants and allies in the Colorado immigrant rights movement. The last ten years of work have demonstrated that together we have power and that although many challenges are yet to come, we are prepared to respond as a united front.
Involvement with CIRC has provided our members numerous opportunities to meet and work alongside many incredibly committed individuals and organizations from so many regions of the state, and this by itself provides the needed inspiration we need to continue on―knowing that we are not alone in this struggle."
- Ricardo Perez, Hispanic Affairs Project, HAP (CIRC Member Organization)
"Because of the CIRC network, my family had the needed support and resources to get me released from the detention center and avoid immediate deportation. I can't emphasize enough what this means to me and my family, and how critical the work of the coalition is to the entire immigrant community.
- Miguel, Grassroots Leader in a CIRC member organization
"I can truly say that every immigrant family in the state of colorado is better of today, because of CIRC's tireless and sometimes difficult efforts all through the year."
- Congressman Jared Polis