On May 8, 2013, the Colorado legislature approved a bill allowing undocumented/illegal residents the ability to obtain a Colorado drivers license. The bill is now sitting with Governor Hickenlooper to sign into law, who according to the Colorado Observer, is likely to sign.
The bill – known as Senate Bill 251 – was handily passed in the Senate. It cleared the House on a final 34-31 vote; three Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the measure.Proponents of the bill argue that the licenses will improve public safety. But many Republicans believe that the legislation amounts to amnesty.
The bill would require undocumented Colorado immigrants to present a certified copy of the prior year’s state tax return filing, a federal tax identification number (ITIN) or social security number, and proof of identity from their country of origin, such as a passport or consulate card in order. They also have to pass the written test in English. The bill includes a provision that enforcement cannot refer cases to federal immigration authorities based on these state licenses. (This provision also was a separate bill that has been signed into law, reversing a prior law issued in 2006 that required local authorities to refer such persons to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)). The Colorado license would look different than those issued for the majority of Colorado residents. The Colorado-issued ID card or driver’s license would not be valid federal identification to vote, obtain benefits or board airplanes. Finally, while no criminal background check is conducted, fingerprints are collected in order to issue the card.
If the governor signs this into law, Colorado would be the 4th state to provide such a license after New Mexico, Illinois and Washington. This is quite a turnaround from 2006, when the legislature imposed many punitive measures on illegal immigrants. If signed into law, an estimated 60,000 illegal immigrants living in Colorado will be able to apply for an ID, license or driver’s learner permit in 2014.
For more information on obtaining a drivers license in Colorado for illegal immigrants, please contact immigration lawyer Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117.