Colorado’s driver’s license program for immigrants faces
many more hurdles than previously believed, including long wait lines that have" border="0"/>
Colorado's driver's license program for immigrants faces many more hurdles than previously believed, including long wait lines that have resulted in fraud to allow people to jump ahead in line. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

It is maddening to see a well-intentioned government program fail to function because of differing political opinions among lawmakers.

If a program is so bad, change it or repeal it. But if you can't do either, don't starve its funding to the point it wastes the time of tens of thousands of people.

That is what some Republicans in the legislature have been doing to a driver's license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The program, approved by a Democratic-controlled legislature in 2013, pays for itself by charging immigrants $55 more than others to get licenses.

But the program was more popular than anticipated, and the proposed funding was set too low. Republicans last year denied a request to increase the program's breadth and thus allow it serve more immigrants.

Now, only 90 applicants a day can make appointments when there are an estimated 150,000 people eligible to apply, according to The Denver Post's Jesse Paul.

It could take years for some to obtain the licenses, which can make the roads safer for everyone. To obtain a license, applicants must prove they know the state's driving laws, pass a driving test and have proper vision. A license also allows a person to get insurance, and would reduce the incentive for someone involved in an accident to flee from the scene.

It does not grant anyone legal status in this country and it does not make anyone eligible to work here, either.


Police, sheriffs and other law enforcement groups support the measure. Other states have enacted similar laws.

The restricted number of licenses available has opened the door to schemers, duping people into paying more to get fake licenses.

Thankfully, sensible legislation to be introduced this session seeks to fix the problems.

One bill would extend the program's authority and allow it to spend more money collected from its participants.

Another bill focuses on penalizing unscrupulous actors targeting immigrants.

Yet, it is unfortunate the legislation is necessary. Lawmakers should work to ensure programs are effective, not put up roadblocks to make them fail.

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