Colorado’s “noncitizen” driver license bill OK’d by panel

Posted: April 11, 2013 in local news
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Posted:   04/10/2013 01:20:00 PM MDT
April 11, 2013 5:52 AM GMTUpdated:   04/10/2013 11:52:14 PM MDT

By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Postdenverpost.com

A bill that would allow immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally to apply for driver’s licenses was approved Wednesday night by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 251, as introduced last week by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, would allow undocumented immigrants to present copies of state tax returns, a federal tax identification number and proof of identity from their country of origin in order to apply for a license.

An amendment, added this week to keep Colorado in compliance with federal guidelines, clarifies that the licenses will be part of a second category of drivers licenses and that they will marked on the front with the words “not REAL ID compliant.”

Ulibarri said that Maryland’s passage on Friday of a similar bill helped shape the amendment.

The federal Department of Homeland Security told the state of Maryland that the label “not REAL ID compliant” made the license look “substantially different,” so that it met federal guidelines.

The identification on the license would mean the license would not work as federal identification for boarding a plane, or for voting, Uliberri said.

The committee, made up of three Democrats and two Republicans, voted along party lines, moving the bill to the appropriations committee.

Testimony for the bill included a long list of supporters, as well Deputy Attorney General David Blake, who said that office has not taken a stance on the proposal. No opponents testified.

Committee member Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said the bill is a step backward for Colorado’s secure system for verifying legality for driver’s licenses. Lundberg also asked whether the bill would encourage more people to come to the state illegally.

“Colorado has been a leader in maintaining the accuracy of licenses, this now says we’ll give a licenses to anyone who claims they’re a resident of Colorado,” Lundberg said.

A previous draft of the bill included a marked restriction on the license reading “noncitizen” — an identifier organizers said was needed to ensure bipartisan support.

But Lundberg said neither the “noncitizen” label or the REAL ID compliance makes him feel any better about the bill.

The “noncitizen” restriction would also have been used on licenses of legal residents who are not citizens.

The “not REAL ID compliant” marker would be used on fewer licenses, but Ulibarri said it would also apply to some who have temporary legal status in the country.

Colorado barred undocumented immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license in 1999.

Only a handful of states, including Washington, New Mexico and Illinois, allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses.

Staff writer Kurtis Lee contributed to this report.

Read more: Colorado’s “noncitizen” driver license bill OK’d by panel – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22995948/first-hearing-noncitizen-driver-licenses-bill#ixzz2QBRv7tXV
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