Immigrant Driver's License Debate Continues
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DOH) has stated that state officials in individual states can make their own determinations about issuing immigrants driver's licenses. Traditionally, states have had authority over making their own laws and regulations regarding driver's licenses.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows children who meet certain requirements and were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday to obtain deferred action against removal. The deferral lasts two years and allows federal work permits. With DACA, a new concept called "legal presence" emerged which is different than "lawful status." Various states arrived at different decisions to deal with the driver's license issue for immigrants. Arizona decided not to provide DACA youths with driver's licenses. Oregon and Georgia determined to grant driving privileges to eligible immigrants.
North Carolina arrived at a proposal that raised considerable controversy. According to Fox News, the state's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) plans to issue driver's licenses that have a bright pink stripe and the words in caps, "No Lawful Status." After legal review, these licenses are scheduled for issue on March 25, 2013.
North Carolina lawmakers have filed a bill to bar the DMV from granting these licenses until June. Some officials believe DACA program participants will benefit since police are required to take immigrants into custody when break the law and have no form of identification. Others feel that the license labeling "no lawful status" will lead to prejudice about their presence.
If you are an immigrant and are stopped and arrested in New York, in addition to obtaining criminal defense representation, you should consult a Deportation lawyer for legal advice about legal status and potential deportation.