May 03, 2019

Neguse Leads Letter with Colorado Delegation Members Supporting Immigrants Working in Cannabis Industry

Washington D.C. — In response to cloudy Department of Justice guidelines, Congressman Neguse is leading a letter with democratic members of the Colorado Delegation urging Attorney General Barr and Acting Secretary McAleenan to retract current guidelines which bars the naturalization of legal permanent residents who have been employed in the legal Cannabis industry and replace it with a policy more consistent with the Cole Memorandum.

The letter follows a case of two Denver residents, both lawful permanent residents with no criminal history, who were recently questioned about their work in the legal Cannabis industry during their citizenship interviews. Ultimately, both were denied citizenship on the basis of failing to meet “good moral character” purely due to their employment in the Cannabis industry. In addition to denying their citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services compelled both these Coloradans to sign affidavits in which they confirmed their employment in the Cannabis industry, subjecting them to potential federal prosecution and possible deportation.

“The recent incident in Denver, where two individuals were denied naturalization because of legal work in the cannabis industry, is completely unacceptable and reinforces the need to end the conflict between Federal and state laws regarding cannabis, ” said Neguse. “That is why my colleagues and I have called on the Department of Justice to immediately clarify their position and take steps necessary to resolve this issue.”

“It’s shameful how this administration is choosing to punish the hardworking men and women who work in our state’s cannabis industry,” said DeGette. “There’s no reason why an immigrant who works legally here in our state should be treated differently than anyone else.”

“In Colorado, the cannabis market is a legal and legitimate industry which employs thousands of employees and brings millions of dollars into our economy. I have long pushed for aligning state and federal law on cannabis to avoid issues like the one in these cases. I encourage DOJ to issue guidance to ensure those who have been or continue to be employed in the legal cannabis industry are not barred from citizenship they have earned,” said Perlmutter.

"Since 2014, the cannabis industry has been an important part of Colorado's economy. The administration's policy makes it harder for lawful permanent residents to do their jobs, contribute to our economy, and pursue citizenship with certainty.  The administration is also failing to respect states' rights as it continues to pursue dangerous and counterproductive immigration policies," said Crow.

The letter states that, “during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Barr made clear that the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) would “not go after companies that have relied on the Cole memorandum” and would not “upset settled expectations and reliant interests” related to the same. Given those statements and the proliferation of state laws legalizing cannabis on both recreational and/or medicinal basis, we ask that both DOJ and DHS act to rectify this policy as it relates to naturalization and disruption to a reliant state interest as referenced by Attorney General Barr.”

For a copy of the letter, please email Sally Tucker at