By Jen Riddle
Did you know that CLINIC has recently created two new resources related to states permitting undocumented residents to apply for driver’s licenses?
States are increasingly recognizing the importance of offering driver’s licenses to all residents, without regard to immigration status. Currently, 11 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have passed laws granting some type of driving privilege to undocumented residents who can meet the other eligibility requirements. CLINIC has compiled a comprehensive resource with links to the relevant laws of each state, the type of license available, the eligibility requirements for obtaining the license, and other state-specific details. CLINIC will continue to update this tool as more states join the movement to pass legislation permitting immigrants to drive legally without the constant fear of being stopped by the police, fined, criminally charged, or even turned over to ICE for deportation. If you work in a state that already issues licenses to undocumented drivers and have heard about clients’ experiences in obtaining or utilizing the licenses – whether positive or negative – CLINIC would like to hear those stories. Please reach out to State and Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 565-4807.
As we continue to await federal comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legalization and citizenship for the undocumented, we will likely see more states pass laws allowing these residents to travel safely and legally to work and school, meet the basic needs of their families, and contribute to their communities. So far this year, legislators have introduced and begun debating driver’s license bills in Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Rhode Island, among other states. To support your advocacy on this important issue, please consult CLINIC’s talking points, which summarize the economic, public safety, and moral arguments for why granting driver’s licenses to undocumented residents is the right thing to do. As aptly articulated by renowned undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas: “When you’re undocumented, a driver’s license is not only driver’s license, it’s proof that you exist.”