Undocumented Residents Flood Colorado DMV for Driver's Licenses

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 12:30 PM

By Andrea Billups

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A Colorado law providing driver's licenses for those who are not U.S. citizens has created a logjam at the state's DMV.

Even as the law won't take effect until next month, thousands of undocumented residents have contacted state offices to make appointments for applications, Denver's cbslocal.com reports.

On Tuesday, the first day to apply, 823 people signed up by phone and online with thousands more unable to get through. The state website registered 60,000 hits in less than an hour, The Denver Post reported.

The state estimates about 45,000 residents are expected to apply for the cards, which require applicants to prove they live there, that they have paid taxes, and perhaps more crucial, that they have formally applied for citizenship.

While the cards are marked "Not Valid for Federal Identification, Voting, or Public Benefit Purposes," they serve a purpose to identify just who is living within state borders and who are undocumented.

Immigrant residents are excited to be able to apply. "I think they didn't understand how important this is to the immigrant community, didn't anticipate people champing at the bit to get driver's licenses and do things the right way," said one of the law's supporters, Gabriela Flora.

But Driver's Licenses for All founder Nacho Ramirez decried the state as unprepared for the onslaught, noting the website could not handle the traffic, and call-in numbers could not take the volume.

"The department isn't prepared," Ramirez told the Post on Tuesday. "We gave them more than a year, and they aren't prepared. They're only going to open five offices. They aren't answering the phones.

"This isn't supposed to be a pilot, or a trial run. This is the law."

Cost for the noncitizen license is $50.50, an extra $29.50 over the regular fee of $21. Just five DMV offices will handle applications statewide.

As of March 11, states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted laws to allow driver's licenses or state identification cards for immigrants, according to the National Immigration Law Center.


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