Over the last few years approximately ten states have begun to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants residing in those states. Having a driver’s license provides the ability and security for these new licensees to travel to work and maintain their employment so they can provide adequately for their families. But in at least one state, this capacity to drive legally may soon be undermined.
Since it started issuing driver’s licenses in August of last year, the State of Colorado has issued 7,934 driver’s licenses and 1,655 state identification cards, according to the Division of Motor Vehicles. In states where licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally have been approved — there are 10 in all, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — demand has been high: California, which started its program at the beginning of 2015, said that more than 366,000 applicants had visited motor vehicles offices as of Feb. 3.
But now the state legislature in Colorado, under new leadership politically, refuses to appropriate funds for the program which specifically issues this particular class of two-year licenses to drivers. The result is that many will not be in a position to seek a renewal of their license. In order to get one’s license renewed in Colorado, it is necessary to get on a waiting list. Currently, applicants will be placed on such will have to wait until March of 2016 to obtain the renewal. For many, this means that they will have to risk driving without a license for many months. If an unlicensed driver gets stopped for a traffic ticket or has an accident in the interim, the legal consequences could be severe.
This problem is not confined to Colorado. Other states, such as New Mexico are also considering whether they should do away with the licensing program. Absent some federal comprehensive immigration reform, it is likely that undocumented immigrants working in some states may lose their ability to drive with a valid state-issued license.
The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States as well as other issues that may impact immigrants.. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.