Governor Jared Polis of Colorado announced on Friday that every driver’s license office in the state will now provide license and ID card services to undocumented residents and international students. This expansion comes ten years after the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act was signed into law by then-Governor John Hickenlooper. Initially, only four offices in the state offered this service, but now, on the anniversary of the bill’s signing, all 36 driver’s license office locations will offer appointments for immigrants and international students to obtain a standard license or ID card.
During a press conference, Governor Polis emphasized the positive impact of immigrants on Colorado’s society, stating, “Here in Colorado, we know that our immigrants strengthen the fabric of who we are. With the bipartisan SB251, over 250,000 Coloradans have been able to get their driver licenses and insurance, making all of us safer on the roads.” Senate Bill 13-251, also known as the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, allows individuals to obtain a standard driver’s license or ID card, regardless of immigration status, by providing proof of identity and Colorado residency. However, it should be noted that these IDs are not compatible with the federal REAL ID program, which sets minimum security standards for licenses.
To ensure accessibility, the Colorado DMV collaborates with volunteer nonprofits as part of the I Drive Coalition. These organizations assist undocumented immigrants in scheduling free appointments to obtain standard licenses or identification cards. Henry Gomez, representing Grupo Esperanza de Colorado Springs, one of the supporting organizations, highlighted the importance of the legislation for immigrants in Colorado, enabling them to carry out essential daily tasks such as driving to the hospital or taking their children to school.
The availability and convenience of the service have significantly improved over the years. With the inclusion of more locations, individuals can now schedule appointments online, and information is also provided in Spanish, according to Gomez. He expressed his appreciation for the progress, stating, “It’s enormous how it’s changing. It is easier and closer to most Colorado members of the (immigrant) community. It is a huge step.”
Following the initial implementation of the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, four offices in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Lakewood, and Lakewood Westgate offered the service. Over time, more offices have expanded the opportunity, and as of the recent announcement, the remaining six offices in Cañon City, Delta, Lakewood, Meeker, Salida, and Steamboat Springs will also provide the service.
Colorado is one of twenty states, along with Washington D.C., that offers driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. The state was among several that passed legislation allowing this in 2013. According to the Colorado DMV, a total of 252,396 driver’s licenses, ID cards, and instruction permits have been issued under the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act.
The primary objective of the act is to enhance road safety by ensuring that all motorists in the state are licensed and able to obtain vehicle insurance. Electra Bustle, the Senior Director of the DMV, emphasized the department’s commitment to promoting public safety and confidence through providing motor vehicle, driver, and identity services. Having trained and licensed drivers on the roads is crucial to achieving this goal, Bustle noted.