DENVER (CBS4) – More than 800 illegal immigrants obtained driver’s licenses on Friday, the first day they could receive them under a new state law.
“Every morning, when you drive out to work, you feel some kind of fear because you don’t have your driver’s license,” Miguel del la Torre, who arrived in the United States from Mexico 15 years ago, told CBS4. He said he sought a license because he needs to drive to work and take care of his family.
Immigrant advocates estimate the government could issue 80,000 licenses the first year. Colorado is one of eight states that allow illegal immigrants to receive licenses.
The law’s supporters say issuing licenses will improve public safety. Opponents argue they reward illegal activity.
Colorado’s ID costs $50 and is valid for three years.
The state’s Department of Revenue, which is implementing the law, says those who can’t prove their legal status or who have temporary legal status are eligible for the license or a similar ID card if they live in Colorado, pay taxes and have applied for citizenship.
The cards are marked “not valid for federal identification, voting or public benefit purposes” to comply with federal law.
In May, the federal government rejected California’s design of its license for illegal immigrations, saying it looks too similar to licenses for legal residents.