Colorado residents who aren’t in the country legally can now apply for driver’s licenses


Adriana Gaytan, who came to Colorado in 1997 from the Mexican state of Zacatecas, second from left, sits at home with her children, who were born in the U.S. From left are Osbaldo, 11, Oscar, 13, and Indhira, 14, and their dog Kissy, in Aurora, Colo., on July 31. Gaytan will get a driver’s license soon, as Colorado will begin issuing licenses and identification cards to people who are in the country illegally or have temporary legal status. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

Colorado residents can apply for driver’s licenses today regardless of immigration status, as a law expanding who is eligible to apply went into effect.

The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in June 2013, allows residents who are not in the country legally to apply for Colorado driver’s licenses, instruction permits or other identification cards beginning Aug. 1. To apply, residents must live in Colorado continuously for 24 months, provide a passport or other form of identification from their country of origin, and sign an affidavit that they have either applied for legal status or will as soon as they’re eligible.

These driver’s licenses include language indicating that the cards are not valid for voting, federal identification  or to receive public benefits. The fee is $50.50, higher than the $21 those who are legally in the country must pay.

States that allow residents to apply for driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status

About 9,500 residents have signed up for appointments in the first 90 days, the Associated Press reported. Colorado is one of 11 states that has enacted some sort of legislation granting driver’s licenses to residents regardless of immigration status as of March, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Twelve other states have similar legislation introduced or pending.

In the most recent fiscal year, more than 56,000 unaccompanied migrant children from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico have been encountered by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post
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