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Debate Over Driver’s Licenses For Illegal Immigrants

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- A bill being debated at the state Capitol would give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses.

For the first time since similar measures have been proposed by lawmakers, some members of law enforcement are supporting the idea.

The Colorado Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Associations are backing the bill.

Supporters of the bill argue that hundreds of illegal immigrants are already on the roads and it’s safer for everyone if they’re licensed and insured.

Opponents of the bill believe it’s a slippery slope and would make Colorado a magnet for illegal immigrants.

“Even though I’m married and I have a husband I’m the only one responsible for driving this car,” said Ezzie Dominiguez.

Dominiguez was born in the U.S. but her husband, Jesus, is in the country illegally.

“My concern is if I allow him to drive,” said Dominiguez. “If something were to happen because life is unexpected they both are going to be unprotected.”

State Senator Jessie Ulibarri is the sponsor of the bill that would allow illegal immigrants in Colorado to obtain driver’s licenses.

Ulibarri, a Democrat representing Commerce City, said it’s about making sure those who are driving are trained and insured.

Opponents counter that a Colorado driver’s license isn’t only used for driving purposes.

“The dilemma we have is do the driver’s licenses, do they work as a secured document because we use those licenses for a whole lot of things,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg.

Lundberg is a Republican representing Berthoud. He has some concerns about the bill.

Ulibarri said there will be a marked difference in the licenses.

“This is very clearly differentiated from a standard Colorado license,” said Ulibarri.

The front of the license would be marked “Not Real ID Compliant.”

“Which means they can’t use it for voting, boarding a plane, can’t use it for public benefits, the one and only thing they can use it for is driving,” said Ulibarri.

The bill has an uphill battle.

Dominiguez is supporting the bill and helping gather signatures from other supporters around the state.

“This is the people talking, the people saying we think this is a good idea. We know this is going to make Colorado safer,” said Dominiguez.

Colorado wouldn’t be the first state to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Five other states already do and Maryland just passed a similar bill its governor is expected to sign.

The bill passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday evening 3-2 along party lines. The measure has another committee stop before it goes before the full Senate.

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