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June 5, 2024

Gov Signs Bills to Support New Immigrants, Streamline Their Driver’s License Process

DENVER, CO - Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills into law to grant funding to community-based organizations that provide crucial services to new immigrants and streamline the process of receiving a driver’s license or state identification card for new immigrants.

“Diversity makes our Colorado communities stronger and we must set up new immigrants for success so they can create a better and safer life for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, sponsor of HB24-1280 and SB24-182. “By strengthening Colorado’s existing community-based resources and streamlining the eligibility process to receive a driver’s license, new immigrants will have a better chance of building a thriving life, just like the generations of immigrants before them did.”

“Colorado’s immigrant communities make our state stronger,” said Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB24-1280 “With the recent increase of new immigrants to our state, community organizations and local governments are struggling to keep up with the high demand for services. Increasing access to resources like employment and housing services will help new immigrants build successful lives in Colorado.”

“Colorado has seen a significant increase in new immigrants, and counties and organizations across the state are struggling to keep up with the demand for necessary services and resources,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of HB24-1280. “Resources like referrals to housing, employment assistance, and school enrollment support have a significant impact on new residents achieving stability here. Our law aims to better support the good work that community organizations are already doing to aid new immigrants as they transition to life in Colorado.”

“Colorado has seen a recent influx of new immigrants, and they often arrive with very little and no knowledge or connections to help them integrate,” said Senator Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, sponsor of HB24-1280. “This critical bill will better resource existing community-based organizations so they can support new immigrants and provide them with the tools they need to thrive in Colorado.”

HB24-1280 creates the Statewide Welcome, Reception, and Integration Grant Program to grant funds to community-based organizations that provide services to new immigrants within their first year in the United States. Grant money can be used for:

  • Conducting an intake and assessment of needs,

  • Providing cultural orientation and case management,

  • Services or referrals to employment services, immigration legal assistance, housing-related services, transportation services, financial orientation, mental and physical health services, interpretation and translation services, and English as a second language courses, 

  • Distributing emergency and transitional supplies, and

  • Assisting new immigrant parents to enroll their kids in public schools or summer programs.

“For over a decade, I have worked to ensure immigrants have access to driver’s licenses,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, sponsor of SB24-182. “I’m proud of our progress this year to remove barriers to these driver’s licenses – because it shouldn’t matter where you’re born, what matters is whether you know the rules of the road. Facilitating immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses will make us all safer – and I am proud to  have worked with law enforcement and immigrant rights organizations to pass this bill into law.”

“For undocumented people, the average wait time to get a driver's license is 12-30 months, yet they still need to drive to work or drive their kids to school,” said Rep. Tim Hernández, D-Denver. “This new law allows us to address the needs of newcomers that have been present for decades but have grown more pronounced with the recent arrival of migrants across the state. I’m thankful to have been a part of removing oppressive barriers for our community through this legislation.”

“Right now, undocumented folks must wait years to become eligible for a driver’s license. On top of that, it’s often difficult to obtain the particular kinds of identifying information needed to receive a license,” said Senator Jeff Bridges, D-Arapahoe County, sponsor of SB24-182. “With this new law, we’re removing unnecessary barriers for folks that are on our roads anyway, which increases the number of licensed drivers with car insurance – ultimately lowering insurance costs for all Colroadans. The most important thing we can do is make sure everyone on our roads knows the rules of roads, has access to the insurance coverage they need, and is able to obtain state identification – and this law does just that.”

SB24-182 amends the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act to make it easier for new immigrants to obtain a driver's license or state identification card for residents who do not have legal resident status in the United States.

This law changes the requirements to receive a driver's license or state identification card by:

  • Removing a requirement to file a Colorado resident income tax return for the prior year,

  • Removing a requirement to demonstrate residence in the state for the previous two years,

  • Removing a requirement to provide a documented social security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and

  • Creating a process by which people without the required documentation can prove they are eligible by alternative means of documentation.

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