State's Immigrant Driver's License Program Reopens Offices, Takes New Appointments

May 27, 2015

The state program allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card.
Credit Flickr/cryptozoologist

The state’s Division of Motor Vehicles immigrant ID program is once again scheduling appointments. And next week the DMV will reopen two locations to handle applicants. 

The program started last year. It allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card. 

Originally, five DMV locations offered these IDs . And, the program is self-sustaining through fees.

However earlier this year, GOP lawmakers prevented it from using its own revenue. This caused the closure of all but the Denver site. And due to the demand for the program, the DMV also stopped taking new appointments.

Estrella Ruiz with Hispanic Affairs Project in Grand Junction says the suspension of the program in that city was devastating to people on the Western Slope.

"It was heartbreaking," Ruiz says. "I had to call 60 people and let them know that their appointments had been canceled."

These appointments are made 90 days in advance. Ruiz has helped more than 150 people apply for the program. She says the application process is challenging because there are thousands vying for a limited number of appointments and you can’t afford to make a mistake.

"If for some reason you forget one document and you are there at the window you are denied immediately and you need to make another appointment," Ruiz says.

In March, a legislative compromise restored some funding allowing the program to resume at two additional offices. And as of this week, people can once again make appointments for the sites in Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and Denver.

Starting next Monday each of the offices will see 31 people a day.

Ruiz is glad to see the Grand Junction office reopen.

"It is better [to have it] here locally then having to drive all the way over [to Denver], spend the money to go over there and risking not having a document and losing that appointment," she says.

However, she thinks that three locations for the whole state won’t meet the demand.