The Expansion Gives Further Access to DMV services for Coloradans Regardless of Immigration Status
Denver, CO — Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and Colorado’s I-Drive Coalition applaud the recent decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to expand the number of DMV offices that provide appointments to the immigrant community to apply for a driver license, regardless of immigration status.
Starting this week, hundreds of Coloradans will be able to apply daily for a driver license closer to home thanks to the addition of eight offices where the public can obtain an SB251 driver license, a category that allows undocumented Coloradans to apply for a driver license or identification card if they meet certain criteria.
The additional DMV offices throughout the state – six in the Denver Metro area and two in northern Colorado – will offer a limited number of daily appointments to the public. The latest expansion ensures the availability of appointments in areas of the state with the highest demand.
“A license can be life changing for immigrant families. It can make the difference between being able to get to work, go to the doctor or pick up the kids at school. But this expansion also helps all Coloradans by making our roads and highways safer because more drivers will be properly licensed, registered, insured, and able to get their cars inspected,” said Marissa Molina, Colorado State Immigration Director for FWD.us. “In addition, it makes our state labor force more flexible as workers are able to get to and from work because they can now drive a car.”
The new offices offering SB-251 driver license appointments are:
· Centennial – 10 appointments per day
· Golden – 10 appointments per day
· Parker – 10 appointments per day
· Denver NE – 15 appointments per day
· Northglenn – 20 appointments per day
· Westminster – 15 appointments per day
· Greeley – 20 appointments per day
· Sterling – 5 appointments per day
“For several years now, the I-Drive Coalition has been working with the DMV to bring meaningful change to the everyday lives of immigrant Coloradans through the implementation of this program, which starts a welcome new phase this week,” said Siena Mann, Organizing and Campaigns Manager at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “This is a testimony to what can be achieved when the community works closely with the state government for the benefit of all Coloradans. We thank the DMV for their partnership, which brought us to this very important step.”
In other states where similar changes have been implemented, giving broad access to driver licenses regardless of immigration status lowers auto insurance premiums, increases the number of insured drivers, and makes the roads safer according to a study by the New York City Comptroller.
“We have been fighting through many years so that our immigrant community can have access to driver licenses. The opening of this office shows that our efforts were worth it and that little by little this process, which is very important for our community, will be as simple as it is for all others,” said Yenny Andreu Vivas, a navigator with Alianza NORCO in Fort Collins. “We will continue fighting for equality in the licensing process until all DMV offices in Colorado offer this service without discriminating based on immigration status.”
With the expansion, 19 DMV Colorado offices currently offer SB-251 driver license appointments.
“El Grupo Vida provides mutual support for people with disabilities or special needs within the Latino community. Many of the families we work with rely on a vehicle for transportation to critical services and healthcare appointments,” said Balbina Contreras, a bilingual community navigator at El Grupo Vida. “More DMV appointments in the Denver Metro area means our clients will more easily be able to obtain a driver’s license, which is critical to their mobility and will also protect them from separation from their family.”
Added Aracely Calderon, a Greely community leader: “I’m very pleased that families in Greeley Colorado will have the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license in their own community. Generally, in the past folks had to drive for hours and stop working, lose wages and often hire transportation. This is amazing news.”
In 2013, Colorado lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation allowing all Coloradans – regardless of immigration status – to obtain standard driver licenses. The limited number of DMV offices that were authorized to issue SB-251 driver licenses at that time created significant challenges for immigrants across Colorado who wanted to apply for a driver license or identification card. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing in February 2019, several community members testified that the wait for an appointment could take several months. According to KUNC, the hours-long drive to these driver license offices forced many Coloradans to incur additional costs and miss work, especially for those living in rural communities.
The I-Drive Coalition led advocacy efforts for expanded access to licenses and ID cards, ensuring that undocumented Coloradans across the state had access to an appointment. The common-sense initiative was also supported by farming, dairy and other business groups further highlighting that at its root this program creates a more prosperous future for all Coloradans. In May 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the “More Colorado Road And Community Safety Act,” which expanded the program to 11 total geographically distributed DMVs across the state to issue driver licenses to undocumented Coloradans. The fees for the driver licenses and ID cards funds the program. In 2021, the I-Drive coalition worked with State Senator Julie Gonzales and Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez to put forth SB21-131. A bill, which prohibits the state from sharing personal information with ICE and third parties without a court-issued warrant, order or subpoena. Governor Polis signed the legislation in June of 2021, an important step to ensure that Colorado immigrants can trust that their information will be kept safe by the state of Colorado and will not be shared for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
To schedule an appointment, individuals can call 303-205-2335 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., visit DMV.Colorado.gov/AppointmentScheduling . If would-be applicants cannot get through with these two methods, they can contact one of the Road and Community Safety Act partners, which are nonprofit community organizations that partner with the DMV to support the immigrant community in Colorado. For information in Spanish, applicants can also visit InmigranteInformado.com/Colorado.