Employees struggle with new rules | AspenTimes.com

Employees struggle with new rules

Abigail Eagye

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN State laws intended to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits are posing problems for Americans who don’t have proper Colorado identification.At the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, some applicants who don’t have Colorado driver’s licenses are American and, therefore, legal to work in the state. But Colorado only recognizes driver’s licenses from some of the other 49 states.”We’re seeing some really awkward situations with people who are United States citizens,” said, housing Director Tom McCabe. “Those folks are actually having to jump through some hoops.” McCabe said he’d heard that a number of Alaskans arrived at his office looking for housing. They intended to work for the Roaring Fork Transit Authority, which recently asked for special priority for its employees in the housing lottery because housing shortages are fueling concerns about worker shortages.Alaska is not one of the states whose licenses Colorado recognizes. Under the new laws, those people would have had to get Colorado licenses before they could receive public benefits.RFTA chief executive officer Dan Blankenship couldn’t confirm the rumor about the Alaskans in particular, but he did say “there were several [people] that could not get their housing secured until they got their new licenses, and the delay in getting their licenses caused them to scramble.”RFTA didn’t lose any employees because of the extra hassles, he said, but it did have to put some people up in hotels temporarily.”We might have [lost some employees] if we hadn’t ponied up the resources,” he said.McCabe said his office has had particular trouble dealing with the DMV.”They’ve been very defensive,” McCabe said. “They’re getting hammered.”Officials at the Glenwood DMV refused to comment on rumors that their office had to close temporarily and said they couldn’t speak about the new immigration laws at all. They deferred to a Denver office, but that phone number yielded a perpetual busy signal for much of Tuesday and Wednesday.In the end, some of the biggest problems in Aspen are for workers at the housing office who are trying to comply with the law but can’t get the answers they need in every case.”There are so many variables that weren’t anticipated,” McCabe said. “People come up against these things and have questions, and we don’t have answers.””I really don’t think it’s well-thought-out at all,” he said. “It’s a real pain in the butt for everybody.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com