Bill would allow undocumented drivers
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)