Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Immigration – Driver License Appearance

I want to share a story with you that I recently read in the San Francisco Gate. In fact, covering immigration and Homeland Security issues are a staple on my Wednesday blogs. These posts are the most popular topics I cover.

The reason I am reposting the article is because I had a Tweeter say I’m not sharing both sides of the story. Well, that simply isn’t true. I write a Homeland Security blog. My vested interest is Homeland Security in relation to the issues at hand. I often mention the other side of the coin and that there is never going to be a perfect scenario for either party as an actionable item. I am, however, open to hosting a conversation. So, if you continue to agree to disagree, I don’t mind. Keep reading, keep responding and let’s see if we can come up with a comprise on illegal workers, immigration and Homeland Security.

Twyla Garrett

It was a long and difficult battle to win state approval for immigrants' driver's licenses. Now, California finds itself in contention with the federal government over what the licenses can look like.

The Department of Homeland Security has decided that California's proposal to distinguish the licenses for drivers who have not achieved legal immigration status from regular driver's licenses doesn't go far enough. It demanded in a letter to the state that the new licenses "must clearly state on the face and in the machine readable zone that it may not be accepted for official federal purposes and use a unique design or color to alert federal agency personnel that it is not acceptable for official purposes."

The state had proposed distinguishing the licenses by placing a simple "DP" instead of "DL" on the front of the card (right before the license number), in compliance with AB60, the license bill that was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. There's a wide variety of reasons why California legislators want the licenses to be discreet, but the most important one is also the simplest: Assigning undocumented immigrants licenses that scream "undocumented" would leave them open to unnecessary harassment and exploitation.

It's should not be all that hard for a trained federal employee to read a driver's license and quickly assess immigration status under the California plan. As 19 members of California's congressional delegation reminded the Obama administration in a letter, the purpose of the license is about public safety - not stigmatization.

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