Bill would al­low un­doc­u­mented driv­ers

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -

A bill has been in­tro­duced in the Ok­la­homa leg­is­la­ture that would per­mit un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants to ob­tain driv­ers li­censes.

House Bill 2655 by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa) and Shane Stone (D-Ok­la­homa City) amends a sec­tion of state law re­lat­ing to how the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety (DPS) is­sues li­censes to al­low DPS to ac­cept for­eign pass­ports and con­sular iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards as valid forms of ID when ap­ply­ing for Ok­la­homa driv­ers li­censes.

The pro­posed law would only au­tho­rize this change for non-com­mer­cial li­censes.

If passed, Ok­la­homa would join a num­ber of states that al­ready per­mit un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents to drive legally.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures, twelve states and the District of Columbia have en­acted laws to al­low unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants to ob­tain driv­ers li­censes. Th­ese states— Cal­i­for­nia, Colorado, Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Mary­land, New Mex­ico, Ne­vada, Utah, Ver­mont and Wash­ing­ton—is­sue a li­cense if an ap­pli­cant pro­vides cer­tain doc­u­men­ta­tion, such as a for­eign birth cer­tifi­cate, a for­eign pass­port, or a con­sular card and ev­i­dence of cur­rent res­i­dency in the state.

In New Mex­ico, the state leg­is­la­ture this week blocked an at­tack on that state’s decade old law au­tho­riz­ing such li­censes, and res­i­dents there cheered the news.

“I work in the dairy farms,” said New Mex­ico res­i­dent Fran­cisco Gon­za­les. “I de­pend on my li­cense to be able to go to work ev­ery­day and pro­vide for my fam­ily. I feel like a heavy weight was lifted from my com­mu­nity as leg­is­la­tors stood for the dig­nity of our fam­i­lies and against dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

Im­mi­grant rights groups here in Ok­la­homa want the same re­sult for the Sooner State.

Blanca Zavala is Pres­i­dent of the Coali­tion for the Amer­i­can Dream, an im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion that for nearly a decade has pushed the Ok­la­homa leg­is­la­ture to au­tho­rized li­censes for un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents.

“This is an is­sue that goes be­yond the hu­man rights com­po­nent of be­ing able to take your child to school or your par­ent to the doc­tor with­out fear of be­ing de­tained or even de­ported,” Zavala said. “At its core, this is a pub­lic safety and eco­nomic is­sue that will make Ok­la­homa roads safer and re­duce in­sur­ance costs for ev­ery­one.”

The bill has been re­ferred to the House Pub­lic Safety Com­mit­tee for con­sid­er­a­tion. (La Se­m­ana)

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