Jul 12, 2023 - Politics

Colorado makes it easier for undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses

Illustration of a driver's license in the shape of a text message balloon.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Colorado residents who are living in the country illegally can now obtain driver's licenses at any motor vehicle office in the state.

Driving the news: Gov. Jared Polis celebrated the change, saying it would make the roads safer by reducing the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

Why it matters: The Democratic governor's move resolves a decade of debate about what services the state should offer to immigrants lacking permanent legal federal status, closing a chapter of bitter partisan bickering.

Flashback: In 2013, Colorado allowed immigrants to obtain a driver's license or state ID card, but the program struggled without adequate funding to address demand and it became a political football in the split Legislature for years to come.

By the numbers: 200,000 people obtained licenses in the first decade. Now, more are expected to sign up at the state's 36 Division of Motor Vehicle locations, according to the governor's office announcement in June.

The big picture: Under universal Democratic control, Colorado is loosening long-standing rules preventing unauthorized immigrants from obtaining state benefits, including tax breaks and pandemic cash assistance.


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