Lawmakers looking at measure to protect personal information in upcoming session

Local News

A Denver DMV office.

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers are proposing a bill this session looking to limit information state agencies share with each other.

The proposal calls for personal identifying information (PII) to be kept by agencies they were submitted to. The proposal states: In order to be granted access to PII, including through a database or automated network maintained by a state agency, a third party must certify that they/it will not use or disclose information obtained for the purpose of investigating, enforcing, cooperating with, or assisting in federal immigration enforcement. If a person or entity requests a record from a state agency and the record contains PII, the state agency is required to retain a written record of the request that contains specified information.

The call comes after the Colorado Immigrants’ Rights Coalition  (CIRC) uncovered emails where Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees aided Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in identifying drivers.

The DMV admits their employees were inappropriate with ICE agents. In a statement from the agency’s communications supervisor, they say steps were taken to correct that behavior.

The Colorado Department of Revenue and the Division of Motor Vehicles is committed to ensuring a high level of trust with the public we serve. As a result of a CORA request, it came to light that communications between a few department employees and ICE agents were overly informal and not a representation of the professionalism we expect from our employees. While the actions were within our statutory authority, the language used was not in alignment with the ideals and values of the department. 

We immediately took steps to ensure the employees involved were formally counseled and provided training to address their actions. Their unsatisfactory behavior displayed in their communications has been addressed to ensure the department and division conduct professional investigations into serious crimes.

We restructured the Motor Vehicle Investigations Unit (MVIU) and retrained staff on the appropriate uses of data sharing. Any request solely for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement is immediately denied.

We elevated the approval process for any request for personally identifiable information (PII) from a federal agency, to be reviewed and approved by a supervisor prior to release. Additionally, any DMV-initiated contact with any federal agency requires review and approval by a supervisor prior to contact being made and information shared. 

We have regularly met with advocates of the immigrant community to ensure transparency and trust can be rebuilt.

DMV Statement

The DMV says they implemented even more steps after the governor’s office issued guidance about appropriate sharing of information in May 2020. 

The DMV division spokesman says the governor’s office and the department are open to codifying the guidance and have spoken with legislators and the advocates to do so during this coming legislative session.

The Colorado Road and Community Safety Act was also passed last May; it allows Coloradans to receive a driver’s license or state ID regardless of whether or not a person can prove they are a U.S. citizen.

Despite COVID-19 recovery being a big focal point this session, lawmakers still believe now is the time to get this measure passed.

“Our responsibility in the state to ensure all Coloradans have trust in our state agencies; that trust has been broken and it’s on us to make it right. So, I look forward to this legislative process and I look forward to hearing from the other speakers,” said Denver Democratic Senator Julie Gonzales.

Lawmakers say restoring trust is important now more than ever as some avoid the COVID-19 vaccine out of fear their information will be turned over to ICE agents.

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