Although they acted within their statutory authority, Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) fraud investigators are being punished and forced to undergo counseling and training after sharing information with federal agents about illegal immigrants who were subsequently arrested. The communications, deemed “inappropriate and unprofessional” by state authorities, were exposed by an open borders group that has called for the “immediate shutdown” of every immigrant detention center and “an end” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The exchanges between state employees and federal immigration authorities reveal that the illegal aliens whose information was shared include a suspected federal fugitive, visa overstayer and a man involved in ID theft.
The DMV has the information because back in 2013 the state passed a measure, Colorado Road and Community Safety Act , allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Colorado is one of 16 states, along with the District of Columbia, that offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Others include California, New York, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont, Washington State and Connecticut. In 2020 Virginia became the latest to grant illegal aliens driving privileges. When Colorado enacted its law, officials encouraged undocumented residents to get licenses because they said it improves public safety. More than 150,000 illegal aliens have applied for the cards in Colorado, a sanctuary state. The policy creates is a public safety threat that may also facilitate identity, bank, and voter fraud, according to a think tank dedicated to researching the impact of uncontrolled immigration. The group further points out that granting illegal aliens driver’s licenses is “not supported by the American people.”
Several years after Colorado started giving licenses to those in the country illegally, DMV employees in the agency’s fraud investigations unit reportedly began to cooperate with federal immigration officials. An open borders group called Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition launched an investigation and obtained state electronic mail that reveals the DMV unit helped ICE arrest illegal aliens who may have been involved in criminal behavior. “Over 200 emails show staff in the DMV fraud investigations unit operating as unofficial deputized immigration officers by proactively helping ICE identify, surveil and detain individuals,” the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition states in a report issued this month. “This confirmed the worst fears of the immigrant community, who placed trust in government services by sharing sensitive information to access services, like a driver’s license,” the document continues. “ICE exploited this trust by working with state agents to detain and separate Colorado families.”
A spokeswoman for the Colorado DMV admits in several media outlets that there was nothing illegal about the state-federal cooperation, but said the emails were “inappropriate and unprofessional” and the employees involved were counseled and given training to address their actions. “While these actions were within our statutory authority, the language used was not in alignment with the ideals and values of the department,” a DMV official said in a local news story. The Colorado Motor Vehicle Investigations Unit has “retrained staff on the appropriate uses of data sharing,” according to a state official cited in one news report. “Any request solely for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement is immediately denied.”
Now legislators in the Centennial state plan to pass a law to prevent the personal information of its residents from being shared with federal immigration authorities, even though Colorado already offers illegal immigrants sanctuary. The proposed legislation is expected to establish guidelines on how the state can share personal information with federal agencies, allowing it to be disclosed only to law enforcement with a warrant or subpoena. Two Democrats, state Senator Julie Gonzales and Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, are behind the measure. The lawmakers say the recently disclosed email exchanges show improper communication between the Colorado DMV and ICE. In a recent news report Gonzalez, who represents parts of Denver, said the pandemic combined with the trauma of former president Donald Trump’s immigration policy has caused illegal immigrants to “withdraw and lose trust in local government.”