Colorado has started issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards to immigrants regardless of their legal status, marking a dramatic change in a state that less than a decade ago passed strict immigration enforcement laws.
There was a festive mood at one Denver office issuing the documents Friday morning, as state Department of Revenue Director Barbara Brohl congratulated applicants once they had their cards approved.
“I never imagined that I would one day have a driver’s license in my hands,” Mexican immigrant Rosalva Mireles, 37, said in Spanish as she held a paper copy of her new license. The permanent card will be mailed.
She’s one of thousands of immigrants hoping the identification cards will add a degree of legitimacy to their residency in Colorado. About 9,500 people are signed up for appointments through the next 90 days to get the documents, with more getting scheduled every day. Both people in the country illegally and those who have temporary legal status will qualify.
The demand has been tremendous since immigrants started making appointments July 1, with the state’s website for appointments crashing at one point because of the traffic. So far, appointments are being handled at only five locations – Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction.