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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Driver’s Licenses and Illegal Aliens

    Driver’s Licenses and Undocumented Immigrants

    Download PDF Version
    by Kendra Sena*

    The Government Law Center's explainers concisely map out the law that applies to important questions of public policy.
    This explainer was updated on Mar. 18, 2019.

    Introduction


    The issuance of driver's licenses is a state function. Each state is responsible for determining the requirements to acquire a license in that state, including proofs of identity and residency.

    An increasing number of states are considering whether to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. This explainer will outline the legal basis for extending driving privileges to undocumented immigrants, including the limitations on states imposed by the federal REAL ID Act.


    I. Background


    Until the 1990s, states did not explicitly prohibit undocumented drivers from getting driver's licenses.

    In 1993, California passed the nation's first law requiring that driver's license applicants prove their lawful status.
    [1]

    Since then, all but 14 jurisdictions have limited driver's licenses to those with legal status.[2]

    But the issue remains a contentious one, with advocates on both sides urging state legislatures to act. In light of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, numerous states across the country are amending their driver's license laws and regulations. While some state bills propose to permit access to driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, others seek to further limit access to driver's licenses, or to repeal previously enacted legislation permitting undocumented drivers to be licensed by the state.[3]


    As states decide how to respond to the reality of undocumented drivers, lawmakers must consider the limits imposed by federal law and the ample room left for the exercise of policy discretion.


    II. How does federal law limit states’ control over driver’s licenses?


    The REAL ID Act of 2005 set certain standards for state-issued identity documents that are used for federal purposes, such as boarding a plane or entering a military base. The law requires that applicants for identity documents provide paperwork that proves their lawful status in the United States. States must verify that the applicant has lawful status, which can take one of many forms: U.S. citizenship; legal permanent residency (i.e., a "green card"); temporary visitor or work visas; refugee status and asylum; temporary protected status (TPS); and deferred action (e.g., DACA), among others.[4] The REAL ID Act requires that the state-issued cards display specified information about the cardholder and contain security features to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication.[5]

    The law anticipates that some states will choose to implement a multi-tiered system, issuing both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant IDs.[6] It specifies that non-compliant IDs must be distinguishable from compliant ones, but leaves it up to the states to determine how the IDs will be distinguished.


    Policies vary among the states that have adopted measures permitting undocumented drivers to obtain driver's licenses. In the state of Washington, for example, all drivers are issued the same standard license regardless of immigration status; U.S. citizens may opt for a license that complies with the federal REAL ID Act.[7] In Connecticut, undocumented drivers are eligible for "drive-only licenses," and must sign an affidavit that they will obtain legal status when they are eligible.[8] In Utah, "driving privilege cards" for undocumented drivers are valid for only one year and cannot be used for identification.[9]


    In 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rejected California's design for its two-tiered driver's licenses.

    The state proposed that the REAL ID-compliant cards would display the letters "DL" for "driver's license," while the non-compliant cards would display the letters "DP" for "driving privilege," and include language on the back of the card to indicate that the card was not sufficient for federal purposes.

    The federal government argued that the markings were insufficient to allow federal agents to quickly distinguish the cards.[10] The state changed the design; REAL ID-compliant cards now display a grizzly bear and a star on their face, while non-compliant cards display "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY."[11]


    The federal government has implemented the REAL ID Act incrementally over the last several years. The most visible phase of the plan, in which only REAL ID-compliant identification will be sufficient to board a plane, will be fully implemented in the year 2020.[12] People with non-compliant IDs will have to show other acceptable forms of identification for federal purposes.


    Compliance with the REAL ID Act is voluntary. States will not be penalized if they choose not to comply, though residents of those states may not like the extra burden of showing additional identification for federal purposes. As of this writing, DHS has certified 34 states and territories as compliant with REAL ID, and the remaining 22 have been granted extensions for compliance.[13]


    Still, even compliant jurisdictions have chosen not to implement all of the terms of the REAL ID Act. One of the law's more controversial provisions requires each state to share its driver's license database with every other state. The law requires states to "provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State."[14] Each state's database, at a minimum, must include "all data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards issued by the State" as well as "motor vehicle drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses."[15] At the time of this writing, only 19 out of 56 jurisdictions have chosen to adopt the database-sharing provision.[16]


    III. How does New York law operate within the federal framework?


    New York began issuing REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses in 2017. The state employs a multi-tier system, as permitted by federal law, and offers three licenses:
    (1) the "enhanced" license, which is used for identification, driving, for air travel and entering federal property, and for entering the U.S. from a foreign country. Displayed on its face is a flag;
    (2) The "REAL ID" license, which is used for identification, driving, and for air travel and entering federal property. Displayed on its face is a star; and
    (3) the "standard" license, which is used for identification purposes and for driving, but is not REAL ID-compliant. Displayed on its face are the words, "NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES."

    Despite a multi-tiered system that includes non-compliant IDs, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for driver's licenses in New York. Although there is nothing in New York law that requires legal status in order to obtain a standard driver's license, a 2001 executive order issued by then-Governor George Pataki created a rule that effectively prevents undocumented people from obtaining licenses.


    The order, which is still in effect, directs the state's Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to require that applicants for driver's licenses present either a valid social security number or federally issued documents establishing legal presence.[17] Undocumented immigrants cannot provide either, and thus cannot obtain driver's licenses. The state will issue licenses to New York residents who have social security numbers, including legal permanent residents (i.e., "green card" holders) and those with temporary visitor or work visas.

    IV. Policy Proposals


    Undocumented immigrants account for a significant number of unlicensed drivers in New York. The Fiscal Policy Institute estimated that there are approximately 752,000 undocumented immigrants over the age of 16 in New York.[18] The majority—70%—live in New York City, where residents have greater access to public transportation and are less likely to need a driver's license.[19] But for undocumented immigrants outside of New York City, the effects of being unable to obtain a license are severe.

    Limited public transportation outside of New York City makes driving a daily necessity to access work, school, medical facilities, and other services. And in rural upstate New York, farms and other agribusinesses rely on undocumented workers who often travel long distances to work.[20] The result is a significant number of New York drivers who are unlicensed and uninsured.


    In each of the last few years, lawmakers have introduced bills in both houses of the state legislature seeking to overturn the Pataki-era rule and codify access to state driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. The most recent proposals would make standard driver's licenses available to qualified New York residents without regard to immigration status.[21]

    The bills also aim to protect the privacy of applicants for the licenses by disallowing the agency from recording on its application form what documents were used to prove identity, or whether the applicant is ineligible for a social security number.[22] They also specify that the driver's license database employed by the state may not be made available to a third party,[23] likely a response to the state-to-state database sharing proposed by the REAL ID Act but which New York has not adopted.

    The bills do not propose to extend additional rights to undocumented immigrants who obtain a New York driver's license. The licenses would not, for example, create a right to vote or access public benefits, or grant legal immigration status. But neither the Assembly nor the Senate bill made it out of their respective committees in the latest session. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has the power to overturn the standing executive order that restricts driver's licenses from undocumented immigrants, has not indicated that he intends to do so. He has, however, voiced support for the pending legislation.[24]


    Conclusion


    Driver's licenses remain within the purview of the states, but with the widespread adoption of the REAL ID Act, the federal government has imposed significant restrictions on states that choose to adopt it. But as New York and other states are rolling out new driver's license schemes to incorporate the REAL ID Act, they retain significant policy discretion in the implementation—including whether to issue licenses to undocumented residents and how the state will store and share the information of the drivers it licenses.

    https://www.albanylaw.edu/centers/go...mmigrants.aspx

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    States issue driver’s licenses under the constitutional authority of the Tenth Amendment.

    https://www.alipac.us/f12/colorado%9...7/#post1646489


    Constitution of United States of America 1789 (rev. 1992)

    10th. Amendment

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


    https://www.google.com/search?q=10th...hrome&ie=UTF-8
    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  4. #4
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Send in I.C.E. to remove them out of our country with their Driver's License!

    They should not be in our country let alone driving on our roads!

    This is a direct conflict with our Federal Immigration and Visa Laws and a National Security Risk and Threat to us all!

    They are KILLING us with those vehicles through DUI's, running red lights, drag racing, road rage, and plowing us down in our streets and on our highways.

    They mow us down and then flee back over the border and WE are left burying our loved ones and paying the bill for the medical costs, funerals, and damages to our person and property! They RIP our loved ones from our arms! This is outrages!

    Stop the states harboring, aiding and abetting illegal aliens by awarding them OUR benefits and privileges!
    Last edited by Beezer; 06-18-2019 at 02:15 PM.
    TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION

    STAY HOME AND BUILD AMERICA ON YOUR SOIL

  5. #5
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  6. #6
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    All 50 states and D.C. issue licenses to illegal aliens with DACA and have since 2015.
    ============================

    5/29/2015
    "The law is effective immediately, meaning that Dreamers granted DACA finally have the right to apply for driver's licenses in all 50 states."

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-free...-their-license
    ------------------

    Nebraska Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto and Gives Dreamers Their License to Drive

    By Jonathan Blazer, ACLU
    MAY 29, 2015 | 12:30 PM

    Maria Marquez Hernandez just graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in psychology, but she still can't give her younger sister a ride. That's because she's a Dreamer — brought to the U.S. by her parents and raised undocumented as a child.

    Shortly after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced in 2012, Maria applied for DACA and received a Social Security number and work authorization card, which ordinarily would have allowed her to apply for a Nebraska driver's license. But the former and current governor decreed that Dreamers could not qualify for driver's licenses, even if they presented that documentation. This has made daily life difficult for Maria, but not being able to do what other big sisters do bothered her most.

    Buckle up. This week that changed when the Nebraska Senate voted in dramatic fashion to let Dreamers drive.

    Maria loves Nebraska, which she has called home since the age of five. But as she has noted, standing up for herself and others in the face of injustice is part of being an American. So when Maria was denied a license because of Gov. Pete Ricketts' adherence to an unfair and unlawful edict, she joined with several of her fellow Dreamers to challenge it in court. But rather than simply waiting on a court to decide, Dreamers and their allies, including the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, convinced the legislature to consider a bill to reverse the discriminatory policy.

    At first, it seemed like a long shot. Republican members of Congress are trying to scrap DACA altogether. Republican governors and attorneys general in 26 states — including Nebraska — are suing to stop the DACA program from expanding. How were Dreamers going to convince a majority of Republicans to override their Republican governor?

    Ask them. Last week, the legislature passed a bill ensuring that Dreamers with DACA — and anyone else with deferred action — are eligible for driver's licenses. When the governor vetoed the bill, the senators stood strong, and voted 34-10 to override the veto. This vote is a victory for Dreamers, and for all Nebraskans.

    But it is also of national significance for two other reasons.

    First, it successfully concludes nearly three years of a nationwide, state-by-state legal and political struggle by ACLU and partner organizations to support Dreamers' fight to win recognition of their right to driver's licenses. As soon as President Obama announced his DACA initiative in August 2012, most states embraced the opportunity to integrate young immigrants and to ensure that they are trained, tested, licensed, and insured as drivers.

    Some states, however, vowed to deny driver's licenses to them. Others stonewalled.

    There was more than driving at stake. For states and Dreamers alike, a driver's license symbolizes belonging, membership, and acceptance. In most cases, recalcitrant state officials relented in the face of strong legal advocacy, organizing, and the broad public consensus favoring fair treatment of Dreamers.

    Three states held out: Michigan, Arizona, and Nebraska.

    Dreamers had little choice but to sue, with the support of ACLU and other partners. Michigan began issuing licenses soon after being sued. Arizona began issuing licenses earlier this year, after
    the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that the state's policy violated the U.S. Constitution.

    This left Nebraska standing alone, the last state clinging to discrimination.

    Wisely, rather than await yet another unfavorable court ruling, the legislature took the affirmative step of passing a law to end two governors' losing battle.

    The law is effective immediately, meaning that Dreamers granted DACA finally have the right to apply for driver's licenses in all 50 states.

    Second, the Nebraska vote brings an underreported trend to the surface: the unwillingness of state legislatures in both red and blue states to penalize Dreamers and others granted deferred action.

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of numerous failed anti-immigrant state laws,boasted earlier this year that he was in consultation with lawmakers from a dozen other states about state legislation to target Dreamers and others who benefit from federal executive actions on immigration.

    Yet from Kansas to Georgia to Texas, Republicans state legislators are refusing as a matter of state policy to penalize Dreamers. Why? It's one thing to file a bill attacking Dreamers, and it's quite another to have to face them, hearing after hearing, and to listen to their stories, which always disrupt simplistic stereotypes regarding "illegal immigration."

    The media rebroadcasts those stories of young people overcoming extraordinary obstacles to contribute actively to their communities, and public opinion turns even further against legislators seeking to punish Dreamers. The Nebraska vote is another strong indication of support, on the ground, for Dreamers and the presidents' deferred action initiatives.

    Republicans may disagree with the way in which the president has gone about his reforms, but they appear to agree with the policies themselves.

    Either way, Maria Marquez Hernandez, other Dreamers, and their allies will keep fighting — and winning.

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-free...-their-license
    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  8. #8
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    The ability of states to regulate who drives on their roadways dates back to the Model T with the 1916 Supreme Court decision regarding Frank J. Kane v the State of New Jersey, which found the state within its right to issue registration fees.
    https://casetext.com/case/kane-v-new-jersey


    States were further supported in regulating who drives in 1999 when the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the case of Donald S. Miller v the California Department of Motor Vehicles, ruled that there is no “fundamental right to drive.”

    NO AMNESTY

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