Immigrant [illegal alien] driver license law creates logjam

Article author: 
Randy Essex
Article publisher: 
The Post Independent
Article date: 
22 July 2014
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

A Colorado law that allows people who are in the country illegally to get driver’s licenses starting Aug. 1 is so popular that appointments required for the licenses are booked into late October ...

The DMV estimated 47,000 people would take advantage of the law; immigrant advocates say up to 180,000 people are eligible. Already, about 10,000 have signed up for appointments.

Of the five DMV stations that will process applications for the licenses, four are on the Front Range, stretching from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins. The other station is in Grand Junction, creating the prospect of long trips from mountain communities, among other locations.

DMV spokeswoman Daria Serna said the agency, which hired four full-time employees and 13 temporary workers to implement the law, lacks money to train more people to properly examine sensitive financial and personal documents required to prove eligibility ...

The bill, versions of which have been passed in a handful of other states, was supported by state police chiefs’ and sheriffs’ associations, though Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario doesn’t support the law.

“It’s just another step in condoning and encouraging illegal immigration,” he said. “I believe in enforcing the laws, not creating laws that encourage breaking existing laws” ...

The DMV, advocates and the governor’s office are discussing how to ease implementation of the law — Monday’s change was an outgrowth of those talks — but Colorado prohibits using state money for the benefit of someone in the country illegally.

“We are very much aware of the challenges in trying to implement the program in a way that doesn’t create inconvenience or chaos for customers,” said Kathy Green, spokeswoman for Gov. John Hickenlooper.

State Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, sponsor of the law, told the Post Independent he has “heard loud and clear of the strong need for an additional office [to handle applications] in mountain communities. That has to happen.”

He said he hopes to win a supplemental appropriation for the law when the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee meets in September, arguing for the state to “make an early investment to reduce the backlog” ...

Jennifer Smith, a Glenwood Springs immigration attorney, warned that the law creates an opportunity for scammers. “Be careful,” she advised immigrants, of anyone who advertises, “we’ll help you prepare the documents you need.”

Smith and other immigration attorneys also expressed concern that the DMV will use the application process to turn people in to immigration authorities if workers find evidence of false documents in a person’s past.

Such concerns are keeping some [illegal alien] immigrants from seeking licenses.

Among them is Jorge, an [illegal alien] undocumented immigrant from Mexico who drives daily from Glenwood Springs to Rifle to work in a car insured by his uncle. Jorge, who wouldn’t give his last name for publication, said he overstayed a six-month tourist visa about two years ago ...

CAIRCO Research

JESSIE ULIBARRI State Senator - District 21
Office Location: 200 East Colfax
Denver, CO 80203
Capitol Phone: 303-866-4857
Legislative Services Building, 3rd Fl
200 East 14th Ave
Denver, Colorado  80203