Feb 23, 2013 Comments Off Spit Stixx
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A new North Carolina driver’s license set to be issued to some illegal immigrants has a bright pink stripe and the bold words “NO LAWFUL STATUS,” raising concerns about whether the design will brand those who show it.
The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles announced last week they would begin issuing the licenses March 25 following a lengthy legal review. The Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program grants valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought to the U.S. as children without legal authorization.
Some Republican lawmakers in the state have balked at the idea, filing a bill Thursday to bar the DMV from granting the licenses until at least June.
Cinthia Marroquin, a 22-year-old Raleigh resident awaiting approval for a DACA permit, said the longer the license issue is delayed, the longer it will take for her to get a job and drive herself to work. Even if she is able to get one, she is worried about presenting a license declaring she has “NO LAWFUL STATUS” at a police roadblock or while writing a check at the grocery store.
“A lot of us are just scared,” said Marroquin, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 15. “We just want to be able to get a job and drive to work. Having that license is just going to show everybody you’re here illegally, just buying a beer or writing a check. You don’t know how people might react.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina also takes issue with the designation.
“North Carolina should not be making it harder for aspiring citizens to integrate and contribute to our communities by branding them with a second-class driver’s license,” said ACLU attorney Raul Pinto. “There is simply no reason for officials to stigmatize people who are in the U.S. legally with an unnecessary marker that could lead to harassment, confusion, and racial profiling.”
Almost from the moment President Barack Obama announced the program in June, states across the country grappled with how and whether to issue driver’s licenses to those granted legal presence.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it is up to officials in each state to make their own determination about what to do. Many states, such as Oregon and Georgia, have announced that they will grant driving privileges to those eligible.
In Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has pledged that DACA youths will not get driver’s licenses, the state’s DMV still lists federal work permits among the documents making people eligible for one.
The issue is especially politically charged in North Carolina, where current state law ordains a driver’s license will be issued to anyone who holds valid federal documentation of their “legal presence” in the United States.