Though immigrant activists have welcomed laws granting driver's licenses in California to undocumented immigrants, many immigrants continue to express concerns that the driver's licenses may be used against them. "I believe this license process is not secure," said one woman.
While at least one state senator states that this was not a trap, immigrants are understandably wary concerning measures that are taken by the government. To begin with immigrants may be unwilling to provide the state government with information that is required before having a driver's license granted. Part of this mistrust may come about because of a record number of deportations occurring throughout the country. Immigration has also appeared to have stalled in Congress.
The driver's licenses that are to be issued to undocumented immigrants will in some way appear differently than licenses granted to U.S. citizens. However, California law prevents information obtained when immigrants apply for licenses from being shared with other government agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
California currently has 2.5 million undocumented immigrants. The state has made great strides in implementing laws favorable to immigrants including the offering of in-state tuition for all residents and passing laws that were meant to reduce the number of deportations.
Though we hope that the legislature continues in passing laws protecting immigrants, immigration-based concerns will not be resolved by legislative initiatives alone. As attorneys representing immigrants, we still need to make certain that the protections are truly enforced. Without such enforcement, immigrants will continue to remain skeptical concerning the goals of legislators as it pertains to them.
Source: News-Journal.com, "Driver's license program hits snag," March 5, 2014