Dems, Common Sense Score Small Victory


AP reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan on the sort-of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to sort-of fund the existing program for driver licenses for undocumented immigrants on Colorado roadways:

A compromise to fund a Colorado program granting driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their legal status is heading to the governor’s desk…

The Senate gave unanimous approval to the deal Monday, sending it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The House had already approved it.

The revenue department initially asked for $166,000 to keep open five offices that handle the licenses, and potentially expand the program. Lawmakers readjusted the request to $66,000, allowing for three offices to be open.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

The dispute over funding this program, in the end, was hurting Republicans politically more than it was helping them. After the Joint Budget Committee Republicans led by strident anti-immigrant Sen. Kent Lambert blocked the funding request for this program, the debate shifted from one of immigration policy to one of functional government. Because the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses was already on the books, and Republicans did not have the majority needed to repeal it, starving the program of funds was broadly condemned as improper and out of character for Colorado. By reducing the number of driver license offices that could process these applications to one for the entire state, an intentionally broken process would have resulted. Responsible lawmakers aren’t supposed to do that, even if it seems like the norm in Washington, D.C. these days.

So what you have here is a partial win for Democrats and immigrant rights groups, salvaging something like a functional program, and giving hope that the clear public safety benefits of licensing undocumented immigrants–with the attendant testing and insurance compliance requirements in order to drive legally–can still be achieved. Whoever it was among the Republican legislative leadership who decided to pull the plug on this ill-advised grandstand made a wise but belated decision.

Because it would be a lot better to do that before getting beat up in the press.

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    The nativists will be back…

    • Moderatus says:

      Didn’t the illegal license program have all the money Dems originally asked for? Cry me a river.

      • mamajama55 says:

        Because why would you want the guy driving next to you to be licensed and insured?

        Public safety be damned, ideology uber alles!

        • Civics101 says:

          What makes you think licensed illegal immigrant drivers will go out and purchase auto insurance?  They didn’t before.  I seriously doubt that little laminated card will inspire them to go out and spend a small fortune for it now.  Considering they have no driving record, as a legally licensed driver in the U.S., I imagine their premiums would be exceptionally high.

          • Progressicat says:

            I can’t say if they will or not, but the premise of your argument (insurance is available but goes unpurchased) is wrong.

            It’s very difficult to get insurance if you don’t have a license.  Most agents would just tell you, “no.”  It is possible, but you have to work your way to someone who’ll talk to you, have yourself excluded as driver (why pay for a policy that won’t pay for your accidents?), and convince them someone else (probably named, probably related or an employee) will be driving you.

          • mamajama55 says:

            Civics, it’s not possible to get a driver’s license without showing proof of insurance. Apparently, it’s been some time since you had to renew, but that has been Colorado law forever. 

            And no, non-citizens can’t register to vote when they get a “red license”, i.e., one for undocumented drivers. 

            • Diogenesdemar says:

              I guess that doesn’t get covered until 102?

            • Progressicat says:

              Of course, I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t believe that’s true.  Proof of insurance is required to register a car, but I believe that the only insurance requirement around licenses is that the vehicle used for a driving test be insured.  I could let someone borrow my car to take the test and I believe that would qualify.

              Also, although I don’t know how this works for undocumented folks, I never took a driving test here because I had a license from another state.  I don’t know if, for example, a CA license issued to someone undocumented would convert over along the same path.

      • Awen says:

        Actually, no, the Dems did NOT get everything they asked for. The original request from DMV was for $166,000 to operate five offices, in addition to the one in Denver, and to convert 13 temporary employees to permanent to handle the backlog.

        What was approved was enough money to open four offices and for 7.5  permanent employees.

        Of course, if you’d actually read the AP story, Moddy, you would have seen that.

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    “Small Victory!” — the Democratic battle cry.

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