Beginning Thursday, Jan. 2, immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally can be issued a valid state driver's license from the Glenwood Springs Division of Motor Vehicles.
The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, passed in 2013, allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain these drivers licenses, but only from four Division of Motor Vehicle offices in the state.
Due to high demand, the legislature passed a bill in 2018 to open four more offices throughout the state on Jan. 2, including in Glenwood Springs, and two more offices on July 1. Governor Jared Polis requested an additional office providing these services in Durango in his state budget request.
Immigrants who are in Colorado legally, through programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or work visas, can also be issued a state driver’s license, but they can go to any Division of Motor Vehicles office in the state.
Legal or illegal, all immigrant state driver’s licenses will have a black banner that says “Not Valid For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes” on the front of the card. Officials say including that fine print on all licenses for immigrants prevents law enforcement from knowing someone’s legal status by just looking at the card.
State Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democratic sponsor of the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, says the bills allow immigrants to drive safely and lawfully on the roads.
“And that means ensuring that my immigrant friends and neighbors aren’t scared to drive their kids to school or sick parents to the hospital,” State Rep. Singer said.
State Sen. Larry Crowder, a Republican sponsor, says many of his Republican colleagues backed the law because it allows farmers' and ranchers' undocumented workers to operate machinery and have a reliable source of transportation to get to work.
“I understand what’s going on in the country on illegal immigration, but the reality is, what we’re looking at is basically driving a vehicle down the road,” State Sen. Crowder said.
He said some Republicans were hesitant because it would give more rights to undocumented workers, but he says it ultimately passed because of the benefit to the state’s agricultural industry.
About 90,000 licenses were given to immigrants in the state since the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act passed in 2013.