DENVER (AP) – Democrats continued a push Wednesday to grant driver’s licenses to immigrants living in Colorado illegally, an idea that has gained traction nationwide.
On the day Oregon signed a similar measure into law, Colorado Democrats cleared the bill through a House committee, arguing that it’s a matter of public safety for everyone on the roads to know the rules and be insured.
“It’s about knowing that when you stop at a red light that the person next to you or the person behind you has a driver’s license, that they have insurance and that they understand the rules of the road,” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, a sponsor of the bill.
The licenses would be labeled to say the immigrants are not legal residents, and the identification could not be used to board a plane, vote, or to obtain public benefits.
No one from the public testified against the proposal, but Democrats have yet to get a Republican lawmaker to support it. The bill cleared the committee on a 7-4 party-line vote, and when it passed the Senate last month, no Republicans voted for it.
Republicans say they’re concerned there’s no way to verify with absolute certainty that the people getting the licenses are who they claim to be.
“While this legislation I think goes in the right direction, there are too many concerns with it as to the national security side of it,” said Rep. Tim Dore, R-Elizabeth.
Republicans in the Senate also argued that the bill will send a message that illegal immigration is permissible.
The full House still needs to consider the bill.
New Mexico, Illinois and Washington state already allow driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally. Connecticut and Nevada are also advancing similar bills.
In the District of Columbia, city leaders planned to introduce a bill this week that would allow driver’s licenses for people in the country illegally.
Colorado sheriffs and police chiefs support the idea.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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