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A real gift

A real gift

A real gift
September 18
10:10 2014
By Jesús Sánchez Meleán
By Jesús Sánchez Meleán

About a third of the 1,600 HB-251 driver licenses holders will receive a $100 gift card. It is the prize for the nightmare caused when they realized their driver licenses were invalid. Cards issued under the HB-251 are supposed to include a black bar across that specifies they are not good to apply for benefits or as a federal identification. These erroneous cards omitted such bar, and look like regular driver licenses.

They received defective cards; but they will be compensated in an original way: with money. It means that MorphoTrust USA, Colorado’s driver license printer, should spend more than 50 thousand dollars to motivate the return of the invalid cards. In reality, the vendor who printed the mistaken documents is trying to prevent the holders of those cards to register to vote or apply for state or federal benefits by using these driver licenses.

MorphoTrust USA’s approach is very different to the one used by former governor Bill Owens, when we tried to curb state spending in services for undocumented population. In 2006, Owen promoted an amendment to the Colorado constitution to prohibit the now-called “dreamers” to ride school buses while attending public schools.

Owen failed in his attempt to modify the state constitution. However, because of his push, the Colorado Congress approved the HB-1023 and other nine laws considered the most anti-immigrant legislation in the entire country at that time. It is good news how that anti-immigration feeling has decreased in the state. Seven years after Owens masterminded these laws, governor Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Asset and the HB-251 which favored immigrants.

It is interesting how in 2014, state authorities are trying to compensate those who in the past were being chased out of Colorado. We should even applaud that the current governor has given the go-ahead for the MorphoTrust USA’s gift to these 524 people. But we should ask Hickenlooper to grant a real gift to the beneficiaries of the HB-251. They deserve a more valuable gift than those $100.

Governor Hickenlooper should follow the example of Owen, but for the immigrants’ benefit. Owens cut short Colorado legislators’ vacation and called them for a special session on July 2006, when they approved the HB-1023, among other bills. Hickenlooper should call for a special session of the State Congress to correct HB-251’s defects. Senator Ulibarri has identified at least four aspects that need to be fixed.

Under pre-2003 regulations, some undocumented individuals were able to obtain a valid social security card. They are not able to obtain an ITIN number, and now, they are not able to get a driver’s license under either route (the HB-251 or the regular way). With a single amendment, –to allow these Social Security holders to apply for the new licenses–, thousands of people would get driver licenses in few days. To have a driver’s license in hand is the best gift that can be given to millions of Colorado residents.

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Edición Virtual | #332 | 14 de Febrero 2019

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