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Category: Immigration News

The Debate Continues over the Issuance of Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants in Colorado

April 4, 2016|Contributed by: Jennaweh Hondrogiannis, Esq.

In 2013, Colorado passed the “Colorado Road and Community Safety Act,” which permits undocumented immigrants who live and pay taxes in Colorado to obtain a driver’s license. The purpose of the Act is to make Colorado roads and communities safer by ensuring that all drivers are properly trained drivers, that they understand the rules of the road, are insured, registered and identifiable. The Act requires that individuals demonstrate that they have paid Colorado taxes and that they have established a residence in Colorado. Thus, allowing hardworking individuals who contribute to the local economy to drive safely.

Although the Act has passed and has been implemented in Colorado, only three DMV offices in the state are authorized to issue such licenses, which has caused a serious backlog. There has also been an issue with individuals scheduling appointments in bulk and selling them to applicants at extremely high prices. The Colorado Attorney General announced that it plans to work with the DMV and the Colorado Department of Revenue to put an end to the exploitation of the program. Nonetheless, individuals must wait months and some, even close to a year, before their appointment with one of the three DMV locations in Denver, Colorado Springs or Grand Junction.

In response to the backlog, State Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, introduced a bill last month that would open six more DMV offices authorized to produce such driver’s licenses. Said offices would be self-funded by the revenue earned from the fees applicants pay for their licenses and identification cards. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio on March 7, 2016, Rep. Singer presented his bill and debated the issuance of licenses to undocumented immigrants with Sen. Lundberg, R-Berthoud who fears that the issuance of driver’s licenses is a form of “back-door amnesty.”

The benefits of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants are many and in no way does the issuance of a driver’s license create a path to lawful status in the United States. The Act allows undocumented immigrants who are currently residing in Colorado and paying taxes to apply for a driver’s license. This will help to ensure that all drivers on our roads are insured, registered, and properly trained to drive safely. Not to mention that the applicants are contributing to the local economy by working and paying taxes. It makes little sense to allow applicants to file and pay taxes in Colorado but prevent them from driving to work safely.

To learn more about Representative Singer’s bill and listen to the CPR story visit their site at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/legislature-again-tackles-drivers-licenses-undocumented-immigrants

We will continue to track the progress of Representative Singer’s bill and keep you informed as we learn more.