A coalition of immigrants' defense organizations has launched a campaign in favor of Initiative 52, which - if approved in November - would give driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in Colorado.
For Initiative 52 to be included on the ballot in November, the campaign must collect slightly more than 86,000 signatures from registered voters before Aug. 6.
Driver's Licenses for All asks that "all residents of Colorado, although they may not be able to prove legal residence in the state, be able to obtain a driver's license or an identity card," if they fulfill certain conditions, said Jose Sanchez, the press coordinator for the campaign.
Those requirements, Sanchez said, include "proving that they have contributed to Colorado," that is, by having paid taxes, as well as having valid identity documents and being able to prove that the person seeking the license lives in the state by, for example, presenting utility bills in their name.
At a minimum, undocumented people who want to get a driver's license will have to obtain their taxpayer identification number, known as ITIN, to have paid taxes in Colorado for at least one year and to have a passport, birth certificate or other document issued by the immigrant's country of origin.
It is necessary for undocumented people to receive the licenses, Sanchez said, because "they are driving anyway," and so "it would be better for the public for those drivers to have licenses and to be able to buy insurance for their cars."
"We estimate that up to 150,000 residents of Colorado would qualify for the state ID or the driver's license if Initiative 52 is approved," the spokesman said.
Up until 1999, all Colorado residents could obtain driver's licenses or ID cards without regard for their immigration status. But starting in that year, people requesting those documents had to prove that they were in the country legally.
The laws changed again in 2006, when - as part of the so-called "state immigration reform" - new restrictions and requirements were implemented for obtaining the licenses, including, for example, presenting an original birth certificate.
New Mexico and Washington are the only two states that provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. In Utah, undocumented people can receive Driving Privilege Cards, but not licenses. EFE