PERRY: Anti-immigrant state GOP says if you can’t beat ’em, beat the rest of us

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I’m the shallow kind of guy who revels in hearing about stupid people sticking it to themselves.

I love it when the nitwit tailgating you for miles on I-225 gets stuck in the slow lane after finally pulling around you. Or better yet, the snowpacked-I-70 weaving-whacko, who nearly kills dozens on a ski day, ends up in a ditch with a dented car down the road. Haha.

“There’s one jerk not on the slopes today,” my equally shallow wife would say as we both snicker and drive past, waving.

44052_600It’s not funny, however, when the moronic things that people do end up making our my lives miserable. And right now, state House and Senate Republicans are sticking it to all of us while trying to stick it to illegal immigrants.

After years of debate, Colorado finally hammered out a plan in 2013 to create driver licenses for people who aren’t U.S. citizens, but who live here as residents, AKA illegal immigrants.

The reason why is so simple even I can understand it. Whether we have driver licenses for illegal immigrants, they’re going to live here. We know that, because it’s true. It’s true here and in all the other 40 or so states that won’t let these people have driver licenses.

And guess how practical it is to not drive a car in the metro area? You got that right. They don’t call RTD the Reason To Drive for nothing. My apologies to those trying to change that. So do you think illegal immigrants don’t drive cars? Does a butthead wearing big-sunglasses in a Beemer text in the fast-lane? Damned straight these illegal immigrants drive — illegally. If they can’t get a driver license, they can’t get insurance.

My wife’s car  has been whacked by illegal immigrant drivers three times in the past 20 years. Each time, no insurance. One was a nice guy. Very sorry. Uninsured, he paid for a parking lot scrape in cash. The other guys evaporated, afraid they’d get deported. It’s a story you or someone you know can repeat.

Last week, my wife had to go to a Denver traffic court after a December traffic crash because she gave the cop the wrong proof of insurance. She had to show an un-expired insurance card to get off the hook. So she shows up in court to find dozens of people there — almost all unable to speak English — were illegal immigrants without driver licenses, facing some kind of infraction. In many cases, it was the only infraction after being pulled over for no lights or driving while Mexican or something.

Because they don’t speak English, the court has to provide an interpreter. Because the interpreter doesn’t want to stay past 5 p.m., everyone who does speak English and has a driver license has to wait until the illegal immigrants are processed through. It’s a time-consuming, exasperating and expensive process.

Case after case, the stories by illegal immigrants about having to risk it to get to work, to drop off a kid at school in the snow, to take an ailing relative to the doctor, were heartbreaking.

They could have gotten driver licenses under the 2013 plan that was just gearing up, one similar to a dozen or so other states that’s solved the problem. But Colorado state House and Senate Republicans this year are so incensed that illegal immigrants would get anything, any stinking thing, that they cut the funding from the program. The next available appointment to get a license is in 2016, and only in Denver.  Sucks to be a Durango illegal immigrant ready to get a license. Republicans did that even though the program is self-funding.  The immigrants have to pay an additional $50 to get a license. And they have to prove they’ve applied to rectify their immigration status. If that seems like a good idea, it’s because it is.

Anything about this strike you as being especially mean and stupid?  So what if they hate, hate, hate every illegal Mexican immigrant in the state? By doing an end run around the immigrant driver license program, Republicans are skewering all of us. We still have to share the roads with unlicensed, uninsured, scared drivers, because of pithy, partisan politics.

Almost every state that’s enacted these licenses have reported that insurance compliance goes up, up and up. Do you know who supported the measure? Cops. All Colorado cops know that the roads will only get safer with licensed drivers, and it won’t eat up their time and that of the courts.

The selfish, short-sighted Republican argument is that if they can’t drive, they won’t get jobs, and they’ll go home. So far? No. They drive anyway, or they find jobs without driving a car. Despite the clear and irrefutable evidence before them, these lawmakers believe that something will change after all these years and the illegal immigrants will suddenly go home. They’re not going home, Colorado. Like it or not, they live here. And when they live here without driver licenses and insurance, you pay the price.

All they get is a license to drive. The thing says in flaming print, ”Not for federal identification, voting or public benefit purposes.”

So here’s a proposition. Go ahead and fund the driver-license program again. Let every qualified illegal immigrant in the state get a license and insurance. And if it makes a Republican legislator fee better, let them pay an extra couple hundred dollars every time they get involved in a traffic situation. In return, your favorite GOP senator or rep gets to get all squinty and glare at the immigrant, snap at them to, “go home,” scream at them to, “learn some English like my Irish immigrant grampa did!” And the rest of us? We’ll drive past and laugh.

Reach editor Dave Perry at 303-750-7555. Follow him on twitter at @EditorDavePerry and on FaceBook. Email him at [email protected]