Immigrant driver’s licenses available in Junction again
The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles today will resume scheduling driver’s license appointments in Grand Junction for people without proof of legal U.S. residency after an interruption of a few months caused by partisan politics.
Appointments may be scheduled up to 90 days in advance at http://www.colorado.gov/dmv or by calling 303-205-2335.
The special licenses, learner’s permits and state identification cards had been available in 2014 at five license stations, including Grand Junction, when the law permitting them took effect.
Legislative Republicans last winter initially declined to approve spending money from extra fees on the licenses to expand the program, which led the DMV to cancel 8,000 appointments and to restrict issuing the documents to only a Denver office.
A compromise allowed enough money for the program to operate three offices for the program. That begins June 1.
When the program started in August, five DMV offices — Grand Junction was the only site off the Front Range — offered the licenses, but with temporary staff. Democrats and the department wanted the $166,000 to make staff at those locations permanent and open more offices if enough fees came in.
Democrats passed the program in 2013 when they controlled both chambers of the Statehouse. Every Republican lawmaker opposed the program then.
Democrats kept control of the House after November’s elections, and Republicans took over the Senate for the first time in 10 years. That gave them power over an initiative that they argued legitimized illegal immigration. That made a potential expansion an unpalatable proposition for the party.
“We still have concerns over the overall program,” Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham said at the time the compromise was reached last winter.
Supporters of the program argue it improves public safety because immigrants will know the rules of the road and can be properly identified during accidents. Police chiefs and sheriffs wrote lawmakers last month in support of the licenses.
The DMV asks that people who no longer need their appointment call 303-205-2335 to cancel.
People with confirmed existing appointments who do not wish to reschedule do not need to take any action. Their appointments will take place as scheduled.
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Colorado Highway 139 is closed between mile markers 12 to 39 both directions, Douglas Pass, due to a wildfire. The fire is putting off a lot of smoke, decreasing visibility.