Colorado bill could speed up process for new immigrants to obtain driver's licenses

Under Senate Bill 24-182, new immigrants would no longer have to wait two years to obtain their licenses
Colorado State Capitol
Posted at 3:20 PM, Apr 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-30 19:26:51-04

DENVER — A Colorado bill that is making it's way through the legislature could soon make it simpler for new immigrants to obtain their driver's licenses.

Under current law, new arriving immigrants are already able to obtain their driver's licenses through the 2013 Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, but must meet several requirements: They have to have filed a Colorado resident income tax return for the prior year, demonstrate residence in the state for two years and provide a documented Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, or TIN.

Senate Bill 24-182 would get rid of all of those requirements.

"We're striking all of that and saying: If you're in Colorado, and you have forms of identification that prove that that's who you are, you're entitled to get a driver's license," said Rep. Tim Hernández, a Denver Democrat, who is supporting the bill.

The bill would also expand the list of identifying documents that are accepted at the DMV to the following:

  • A photocopy of a passport issued by the applicant's country of origin
  • A voter identification card with a photograph issued by the applicant's country of origin
  • A driver's license, instruction permit, or identification card issued by the applicant's country of origin

"Because we're not just getting immigrants from Venezuela, we're getting folks from Honduras, folks from Guatemala, folks from Mexico, folks from Syria, folks from Palestine, folks from all over the place," added Hernández.
However, some lawmakers, like Rep. Richard Holtorf, the Republican Minority Whip, said he has major concerns.

"There's so many migrants that are coming in so quickly," said Holtorf. "With this particular piece of legislation, now they can bring foreign documents in and immediately use that for proof of identification. But what is the security measures to make sure we don't have fake or false documents that come from these foreign countries?"

Since December of 2022, more than 41,000 new immigrants have arrived to Denver. Many who choose to stay are having to drive for work or other purposes whether or not they have a license.

"Folks still need to drive their kids to school, and they're still going to need to drive to work. And so getting them the opportunity to get a driver's license is going to be an important step forward and making sure that everybody can fully participate in safe ways," Hernández added.
New immigrants would still have to pass a written exam, vision check and driving test to get their license.

Hernández said the bill has already passed the Senate and is now in the House. As of Monday, the bill had been assigned Transportation, Housing & Local Government committee.

Colo. bill could speed up process for new immigrants to obtain driver's licenses

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