Entries in Drivers License (2)


Iowa DREAMers Will Get Licenses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Iowa's state government ruled on Wednesday that DREAMers will be eligible for driver's licenses, a reversal of its previous position.

The Iowa Department of Transportation issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon stating that "it can now issue driver's licenses or nonoperator identification (ID) cards to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA]."

According to the agency, the decision was made based on guidance issued last week by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that said that young undocumented workers granted a two-year reprieve from deportation under the DACA program are "lawfully present" in the country.

Each state has the ability to determine whether to award licenses to deferred action recipients, and several, including Iowa, said DREAMers would not be eligible because they did not have "legal status."

Iowa DOT released a statement in December explaining its decision was based on the fact that deferred action "does not grant lawful status or a lawful immigration path to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status. Rather, it is prosecutorial discretion extended in a blanket fashion to persons who are not lawfully authorized to be present in the United States."

States such as Arizona, Nebraska and Michigan fell into the same category, which angered immigrant rights groups that said states should issue licenses because the program awards people the right to work in the country.

Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad said during a Tuesday news conference that he was asking the DOT to review the state's policy to not issue licenses in light of the updated USCIS guidelines, and the decision to award the licenses was reached on Wednesday.

Iowa is unlikely to be the last state to reconsider the issue in light of the new guidelines.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Illinois House Passes Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) -- The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation on Tuesday that would permit unauthorized immigrants to obtain temporary driver's licenses, clearing the way for Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to sign the bill into law.

The Illinois state Senate passed the bill on Dec. 4. The lower house voted 65-46 to approve the measure.

When it becomes law, undocumented immigrants in Illinois will be able to obtain three-year renewable licenses as long as they provide proof of residency in the state. The new law could impact approximately 250,000 undocumented immigrant drivers in Illinois. Supporters argued that the bill would make the state's roads safer since applicants would have to pass driving tests and would likely be eligible to purchase insurance.

"The reality is that people need to drive in order to feed their families," Lake County, Illinois Sheriff Mark C. Curran (R) said in a statement distributed by the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant-rights group. "Having drivers who are uninsured, untrained and untested comes at a high cost to all of us. This bill will ensure that all Illinois drivers have licenses, which will make our roads safer for all drivers. It is the right move."

But opponents of the bill said that the licenses would be susceptible to fraud.

"There are going to be far too many people who will get these cards," Republican Rep. Randy Ramey said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "There'll be fraud, abuse."

Supporters attempted to assuage those concerns. The licenses will be specially labeled and will not be allowed to be used for other purposes other than driving, such as voting or purchasing handguns.

State Democrats backed the bill while Republicans were split. Ramey and others opposed the legislation, but House Republican leader Tom Cross supported it, according to the Tribune.

Only two other states, New Mexico and Washington, grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Utah allows undocumented immigrants to receive driving permits.

California, Nevada and Florida have said they will some undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses, but only young people given federal work permits under President Obama's deferred action program.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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