Driver’s Licenses for Young Illegal Immigrants – Not in N.C.?

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President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last June to prevent the deportation of people who were brought into the country illegally as children. The DACA program grants – under certain circumstances – two-year work permits for applicants.

Young illegal immigrants have then the chance to get a driver’s license issued, as they have an employment authorization card showing their legal presence in the United States.

This means they can legally drive a car and insure it. The state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) says it has stopped issuing the licenses, pending a ruling from State Attorney General Roy Cooper on whether an estimated 180,000 young men and women
in the state who are eligible for the federal DACA program are also eligible to drive under North Carolina law

Former DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson requested the general’s ruling in October. His question centered on applicants for licenses who are not US citizens, and the documents they must provide to certify their legal presence in the USA; wether DMV should accept a federal employment authorization card with a special “C33” code, which indicates that the applicant is taking part in the DACA program.

Robertson wrote in a letter to the state’s Attorney General Roy Cooper that no licenses will be issued unless he receives a statement from Cooper’s office that North Carolina law requires them to do so.

Attorneys with our office are studying the legal issues involved”, Cooper’s spokeswoman, Noelle Talley, said on Friday.

Initially, the DMV issued licenses to DACA participants. However, the change of the DMV policy did not reach the staff nor all offices just yet. Marty Rosenbluth, a lawyer with the Durham-based N.C. Immigration Rights Project, said that one of his client’s received her learner’s permit last Monday.

The question is, does it make sense that people living and working in the United States should not be allowed to (legally) drive a car?

Author: Melanie Schmitz – Rechtsreferendarin Charlotte Office

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