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Debate Over Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Heats Up

State legislators, immigration advocates, district attorneys, and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are locked in legislative battles over the potential issuance of driving permits to undocumented immigrants.

The legislatures of California, Pennsylvania and New York are considering giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who are waiting for resolutions to the endless debate over comprehensive immigration reform. However, these legislative efforts are facing strong opposition by politicians, state prosecutors and even federal law enforcement agencies.

Back to the Drawing Board in California

The Golden State has been one of the most proactive in the fight for driving permits for illegal immigrants. Recently, the Department of Motor Vehicles presented its proposed design for a driving privilege document that includes a disclaimer on the reverse portion that will prevent the document’s use for federal purposes. Examples of such purposes would be using the document as identification for air travel or to receive public benefits.

DHS has rejected the California driving permit for undocumented immigrants on the basis that it cannot be easily distinguished from the regular driver’s license currently issued by the state. The California DMV will look into compliance, but state senators sharply responded that they would like assurance from the DHS that federal agents will not use these new cards to profile undocumented immigrants carrying these cards.

The Need for Licensing in New York

A traffic safety watchdog organization in New York is supporting legislative efforts to issue permits to undocumented immigrants. Transportation Alternatives traditionally opposed the spread of cars on the roads of the Empire State, but the non-profit organization is more concerned about the number of undocumented immigrants driving without licenses or insurance because of their status. New York City Mayor de Blasio likes the idea, but it is uncertain whether Govenor Cuomo will support it.

Pennsylvania District Attorney in Opposition

When city council members in Easton voiced their support for a legislative measure to allow undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania to get driver’s licenses, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli hit the roof. The prosecutor called the city’s move to support the measure dangerous and misguided. Mayor Sal Panto Jr dismissed Morganelli’s warnings about terrorism as overkill.

For more information about driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in San Diego, contact KS Visa Law at 858-874-0711. One of our professional San Diego immigration lawyers will be able to assist you, and can help you schedule your free consultation.

May 2024