What these citizens of Pueblo think of Colorado’s new driving license law


Immigrant and longtime resident in the United States Rosalva Mireles is photographed by Jesus Sanchez of Spanish language newspaper El Commercio, after Mireles was processed for her permanent driver’s license, and received a temporary license, at a Department of Motor Vehicles office, in Denver, Friday Aug. 1, 2014. Colorado began issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards on Aug. 1, 2014 to immigrants who are in the country, regardless of legal immigration status. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

PUEBLO, Colo. — It’s been five days since the state of Colorado allowed people without proof of legal residence in the United States to apply for driving licenses. As many as 10,075 applications have been made so far, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. But what do the people of Pueblo think about the new law? Speaking to residents Tuesday, the reaction on the whole has not been very positive.

Michelle Mehan, a 28-year-old single mother who works in health care, thinks it is a bad policy because “it shows that you can come to Colorado, we’ll give you a license and they don’t need insurance.” Mehan also believes the new law will cause more accidents. “People will get hurt and they’re not going to have the responsibility to pay up. It’s going to come out of our pockets,” she said.

Carl Ward, a 50-year-old homeless mechanic, said the law is unfair for the legal residents of Colorado. “I have to pay child support to keep my license,” he said. “They’re not even a legal citizen and they can go and get one.”

Cheryl Barlett, a registered nurse, said she is “totally against” the law because she thinks it’s going to make insurance costs rise. “They’re not U.S. citizens and if they’re in a big wreck and cause a lot of damage, they will go back to their own country.”

Madina Palair, a disabled citizen, described the policy as “lousy” and said illegal immigrants now have “more rights than the people here do.”

A son of Mexican immigrants who identified himself only as Eddie, said issuing the licenses is “totally wrong” because “it’ll make the road more dangerous.” A self-described “tea party constitutionalist,” he said “we’ve seen how many deaths [illegal immigrants in Colorado] have caused already.”

One citizen of Pueblo, Steve, said the new law “might be encouraging more people to come, that’s for sure.” But he thinks the policy might be necessary.  “If they’re gonna work here, they’re gonna need a license.”

Don Bowie, a retired man, is keen to see action taken on immigration and isn’t a fan of the policy but he doesn’t think it will have any negative effects “They’re gonna drive if they’ve got a license or not.”

Only one Democrat , Roy Clay, fully backed the policy. He praised President Obama’s $3.7 billion reform package, arguing it should have been passed by Congress. “He’s doing an incredible job of keeping the peace and I’m really concerned about the anger in this country.”

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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