DENVER -- It's not as if federal immigration agents are demanding to see green cards in the corridors of the state Capitol, but some Colorado state legislators are angry nonetheless that a new federal law requires them to prove they are not illegal aliens.

The Colorado attorney general ruled last month that 27 freshman legislators must fill out Immigration and Naturalization Form I-9 and provide proof of U.S. citizenship. The 27 were sworn into office in January, and the new federal immigration law dictates that anyone starting a job after Nov. 6, 1986, must prove to his employer that he is legal resident of this country.

To get on the ballot, the state legislators had to certify in writing that they are citizens. But those affidavits don't meet the requirements of the new federal statute, so the state demanded that the freshmen provide stronger proof.

The legislators, several of whom praised the immigration law when it was passed last year, are not amused. "Insulting," said state Rep. Sam Williams. "The dumbest thing I ever heard."

At least one member, state Rep. Jim Dyer, vowed defiance. He said he'd stand in the statehouse door in the manner of James Cagney, shouting "Come and get me, Copper!"