Undocumenteds face license roadblocks

DMV office backed up, advocate says

Some 45,000 undocumented immigrants are expected to seek a Colorado driver’s license or identification card this year.

The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, which takes effect Aug. 1, authorizes undocumented residents to obtain a state-issued license or ID card. Minority advocates, however, have said that the Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t have resources to meet demand.

“The State of Colorado has only allowed for five of the state’s 37 DMV offices to issue driver’s licenses to these individuals,” said Nicole Mosher, a Latino advocate in Durango.

The five DMV offices are in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. Mosher, executive director of Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center, said a petition is circulating to encourage expanded services across the state.

“I hope the petition drive will show the governor that there are enough interested and eligible people living in this isolated corner of the state to merit the resources needed for the Durango DMV office to offer and handle appointments for undocumented individuals to obtain their licenses,” said Mosher.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) has spearheaded the petition drive, which was scheduled to end on Tuesday, July 15. In a recent bilingual press release, CIRC officials cited an overwhelming response to push for all DMV offices across the state to provide the new services.

“The most important concern is that this is a state law – not a pilot program – and therefore should be instituted as a state law that provides a realistic and attainable opportunity for all Coloradans,” the press release stated.

Mosher said she has spoken to residents who have no family members who possess a legal license. The hardship forces people to drive to work or drop children off at school illegally.

“What are they supposed to do in case of emergency or during cold winter storms?” asked Mosher. “They shouldn’t have to drive illegally to obtain legality.” Mosher said state officials required appointments to obtain the new driver’s license or ID card. Online and phone, appointments started July 1. A notice on the DMV website reported high call volumes.

“The Grand Junction DMV has no appointments available through the month of October,” said Mosher.

Applicants must sign affidavits affirming Colorado residency and provide evidence to support that claim. Those who have been in the state for less than two years must provide a tax return filing for the prior 12 months.

Applicants must also promise to seek legal status in the country, provide foreign proof of identity and an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a number issued by the IRS to allow people to pay taxes despite having illegal immigration statuses.

Once approved, the driver’s license or identification card is valid for three years. A black banner with “Not Valid For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes” is included on the license or ID card.