New law makes DMV more of a zoo
Most of the time the Department of Motor Vehicles gets a tough rap. It’s one of the least favorite places for folks to go. You sit in a hot room with a bunch of strangers for three hours to be given a document with a picture that looks like a booking photo for John Dillinger.
But the folks at the DMV are having a pretty tough time starting this month in implementing some of last year’s legislative mischief, namely the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act. This new legislation describes itself as providing, “drivers (sic) license and identification cards for Colorado residents who cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S.”
So, as of Aug. 1, Colorado is providing driver’s licenses for individuals who are illegally in the United States. I mean, I’m pretty sure that’s what the term “cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S.” has to mean.
The reasoning behind this is that by issuing driver’s licenses to people who many assume are driving anyway, we ensure proper identification of these individuals and appropriate driving management skills.
Let’s take a look at those hopes in the context of this law’s requirements.
To begin with, the identification cards and driver’s licenses are not to be used for voting or receiving state benefits, and to obtain a driver’s license, the individual must pass a written test.
Colorado’s DMV is presently under criticism because it has taken the department so long, since passage of this bill, to translate the state driver’s manual into Spanish. This will be especially helpful because traffic control devices, informational signs and portable highway warning devices are not written in Spanish. This means it’s a little hard to take instructional signs very seriously, if, in order to have a driver’s license, you don’t have to be able to read any of them.
A second part of this idea seems to be that this new issued identification will distinguish individuals with some degree of certitude. This is dependent upon what underlying documents an individual submits to obtain the identification.
According to the DMV, individuals who cannot prove that they are lawfully within the United States, may sign an affidavit that they have been in Colorado the prior 24 months and have some proof of that. The list of acceptable proof includes things such as a utility bill, school transcript or report card, rent receipt or a telephone bill as well as a few others and finally, “Other items with address that can be reviewed by Driver’s License personnel.”
Additionally, applicants must provide proof of their country of origin and identity. These documents include a passport, a military identification (one wonders what active-duty military personnel from a foreign country would be doing in the country illegally) and lastly, a consular identification card.
The most common of these would be a Matrícula Consular card issued by Mexico to nationals living outside the country.
Let’s take a look at what the FBI says about this document from testimony by its assistant director for intelligence, before the United States Congress: “The Department of Justice and the FBI have concluded that the Matrícula Consular is not a reliable form of identification, due to the non-existence of any means of verifying the true identity of the card holder … As a result of these problems, there are two major criminal threats posed by the cards, and one potential terrorist threat.”
There are benefits from the program — that certain effort is made to ensure those obtaining the license have some knowledge of rules of the road and can obtain insurance — which are not insignificant. But any gains appear to be offset by the misleading assumption that this card provides some sort of reliable identification. It doesn’t, because the underlying documents have no significant reliability.
It does, however, create a false impression of knowledge, when the basis of what the document purports to represent — an authentic form of identification — is largely self-reported and untrustworthy.
Some estimates are that there are 150,000 people who may apply for a license under the new law.
These cards are obtainable only by appointments at five locations in Colorado, one of which is in Grand Junction.
Rick Wagner writes more about politics on his blog, The War on Wrong.