There are currently 10 states of the Union plus D.C and Puerto Rico that have enacted laws granting driving privileges for undocumented immigrants (see image). In some cases, judicial challenges to these laws have been initiated by advocacy groups and different branches of the particular state’s government; namely, Arizona. In this state, Governor Brewer issued an Executive Order in 2012 banning DACA beneficiaries from receiving driving privileges; however, a Federal Appeals Court denied the legality of her actions last Monday, November 24 2014. The call for driving privileges for undocumented immigrants is a common-sense initiative that should be extended nation-wide because:
- It helps account for the number of undocumented immigrants in the States. Now, this could be a double-edged sword because both pro-immigration and anti-immigration groups (including the elected officials) will have a better estimate of the undocumented population.
- It brings people out of the “shadows” allowing them to obtain state-issued ID’s that although may not be valid to re-enter the country or work legally, they will help identify immigrants in many instances and allowing them to integrate into society easier.
- It makes roads safer. Undocumented immigrants will have to take the theory and road tests, which will progressively make them better drivers and increase public safety. Having a license will also increase the chances of all immigrant drivers having car insurance, which will decrease “hit and runs”.
- It’s just the right thing to do because undocumented immigrants will still continue to drive to work, school and church everyday and having a driver’s permit will take away the fear of being separated from their families simply for driving a car.
It is important to highlight that most of the driving permits allowed by some states now will differentiate them from actual driving licenses. They would some variation of the words: “Driving Permit, Driving Privilege”. Again, these wouldn’t be permissions to stay here legally or permissions to work or re-enter the country; they would simply be driving permits.
If you have questions about obtaining a Driver’s License, please contact Immigration Attorney Amna Shirazi at the Shirazi Law Group, INC (404-523-3611). We are experts on handling deportations, Naturalization applications (N-400), Work Authorization applications, Permanent Residence applications (Green Cards) and National Visa Center processes; among others.