NC House panel OKs driving permits for illegal immigrants

Posted April 15, 2015

— Despite outcry from illegal immigration watchdogs, a House committee on Wednesday easily approved legislation that would grant driving permits to North Carolina residents who are in the U.S. illegally.

House Bill 328 would create a "restricted ID" for the state for undocumented residents who undergo fingerprinting and background checks and prove their identity and state residence.

"This bill has nothing to do with immigration, immigration law or immigration reform," said sponsor Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan. "This is a bill about law enforcement and public safety."

The measure is designed to reduce the risk of identity theft and make it easier for law enforcement to identify criminals through a new state database of undocumented people in North Carolina, Warren said. The bill also would make producing or selling counterfeit identification documents a felony – it is currently a misdemeanor – and prohibit municipalities and nonprofit groups from creating their own ID cards for immigrants.

Driving privileges would be attached to the restricted ID, provided applicants pass a state driving test and obtain liability insurance coverage, but Warren said the document "in no way should be confused with a North Carolina valid driver's license."

Although it would allow holders to drive on North Carolina highways, the restricted ID could not be used as a form of identification to vote, apply for public assistance, access government buildings or board a plane, he said.

Still, several longtime critics of U.S. immigration policy blasted the bill because of the driving privileges portion, saying they had no problem with the rest of the proposal.

"I want you to shut this bill down or take the license provision out of there," said WIlliam Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, noting that advocates worked a decade ago to stop North Carolina from issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

"It doesn't make any sense as to why someone would be in favor of enforcing immigration laws on the one hand and in the same law be encouraging illegal immigration," said James Johnson, president of North Carolinians For Immigration Reform and Enforcement. "Giving illegal aliens a North Carolina driver's license or permit – or whatever you want to call it – would only encourage more."

Ron Woodard, president of NC Listen, compared the driving permit to giving undocumented residents amnesty.

"Why reward people illegally in our nation with a legal driving permit and help them legally drive to a job that belongs to a citizen?" Woodward asked.

Warren dismissed arguments that the driving permit would attract hordes of immigrants to North Carolina. Thirteen other state offer licenses or driving permits to undocumented residents, he said, but none have the hoops House Bill 328 sets up to obtain one, he said.

"I would go to Maryland, I would go to Illinois to get a driver's license. I wouldn't come to North Carolina and submit to fingerprints and a criminal background check for a one-year permit," he said.

"Driver's licenses don't motivate immigration; economics do," he continued. "People don't sneak into the United States to get a driver's license, and they don't go to Arizona or Florida to get driver's licenses. They go there to work."

There are 90,000 to 110,000 undocumented immigrants in the state who are old enough to drive, but few have passed a driving test or can be held financially responsible if they are involved in a crash, Warren said.

"There's nothing wrong with issuing a permit. It's acknowledging the fact that we have people driving without insurance, without being vetted, without being tested," he said. "To recognize that and for us, as a legislative body, to do nothing about it is, in my opinion, a dereliction of duty."

Fred Baggett, legal counsel for the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, said his group favors the bill because it would reduce the fraudulent IDs – or complete lack of identification – that officers now deal with on the streets.

The bill passed the House Judiciary I Committee on a voice vote with little debate and now heads to the House Finance Committee before going to the floor.


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  • AnnaMarie Sanderson Apr 17, 2015
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    Terry Watts, if they want documents they can go back to their homeland and live there! In fact the Federal Law demands they do just that!

  • Terry Watts Apr 17, 2015
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    Hilarious... A plan to actually document the undocumented makes some foam at the mouth...

  • AnnaMarie Sanderson Apr 17, 2015
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    We need to have recall elections to every member that voted for this to pass! Aiding and abetting illegal foreign invaders in any manner is a Federal crime. When there is multiple counts of aiding and abetting via legislation that is a RICO violation. All who voted yes should be fined and jailed immediately! I think that our legislature and the press need to learn about the federal law!!! 8 U.S. Code § 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens

  • James Johnson Apr 17, 2015
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    should be charged with such.

    On the one hand H328 offers some very good enforcement measures that deter illegal immigration into N.C., and on the other hand it offers a huge incentive for illegal aliens to come to N.C. , all within the same bill.

    Why jump through all these hoops to accommodate illegal aliens who shouldn't be here in the first place. Simply enforce the law, they will leave, and we won't have to go through all these contortions.

    Why are we rewarding people who have broken the law, with a North Carolina driver's license/permit?

    Unless you agree with this type of action by your lawmakers, I urge you to contact your State Representative and demand they "Remove section 6 and THEN pass the bill".

  • James Johnson Apr 17, 2015
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    They are violating their N.C. oath of office:

    "I, __________, do solemnly swear affirm that I will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent therewith; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office; so help me, God."

    And they are violating North Carolina General Statute N.C.G.S. § 14-230. (willfully failing to discharge duties), North Carolina Constitution Art I Sec 5 (Allegiance to the United States) and Sec 29 (Treason against the State) and as such are guilty of misbehavior in office and should be

  • James Johnson Apr 17, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Other than that, it is the exact same license as you and I received. It can be used as official identification and/or for driving purposes just like the one you have. There are no driving restrictions placed on the "restricted" driver's license/permit. The Reps supporting it like to mince words and say it is "NOT A LICENSE". It is a "RESTRICTED driving PERMIT". Well what's the difference if those are the only restrictions placed on it?

    This has nothing to do with the "broken immigration system" or "the failure of Washington to do their job" excuses the Reps are espousing. The Supreme Court of the U.S. has ruled that States DO HAVE THE RIGHT to protect themselves by enforcing those very same Federal laws against illegal immigration, at the State level. In fact, anyone who fails to enact and enforce those laws at the State level is just as guilty of a dereliction of duty as our Legislators in D.C. are.

    Quite frankly, lawmakers who actively

  • James Johnson Apr 17, 2015
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    Section 6 of this bill also allows for any and all illegal aliens in the State of North Carolina to be eligible to receive a "restricted" North Carolina Driver's License/permit and/or N.C. ID card. This bill is not about licenses/permits/ID cards for the DACA approved illegal aliens in N.C. They are already receiving their "restricted" N.C. driver's licenses/permits/ID cards. Upwards of 50,000 of them have been issued so far.

    The reason the word restricted is in quotation marks is because the NC. driver's license/permit/ID cards do have some limitations on them.

    Those are:

    1) it can not be used to register to vote (you and I know that, but how many people who are registering people to vote, are going to know that or even abide by it?)
    2) it can not be used as a legitimate ID to enter government buildings (big penalty huh?)
    3) it can not be used to board aircraft (well, yes it can and the TSA in California is already allowing it:

  • James Johnson Apr 17, 2015
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    Dear citizens of North Carolina,

    In response to the mis-information you are being given by Rep. Harry Warren (and others), about House Bill H328 - Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act, make no mistake, this bill IS about "undocumented immigrants", their ability to drive to the jobs they have taken away from unemployed citizens of N.C. and about making it easier to come to and remain in N.C.

    In fact, under section 6 § 20-37.8A. (c) (5) (i) of this bill, it directly states: "A State agency or official shall not use any information submitted as part of the application process for a restricted identification card to seek the removal from the United States of the applicant or for any purpose other than the issuance of the restricted identification card. Nor shall a State agency or official release information pertaining to the immigration status of an applicant for a restricted identification card, except where expressly required by law to do so. "

    How do you like them apples? S

  • Ronnie Reams Apr 16, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    I do no think that schools are allowed ask for anything from illegal aliens. They just tell
    the school that they are illegal aliens and they are admitted. The schools can ask for shot
    record, AFAIK.

  • Ronnie Reams Apr 16, 2015
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    The biggest impediment to allowing all comers to get a DL is the Federal guvment. Instead of looking at DLs as a ticket to drive a vehicle on the highways, they use them to gain access to Federal Buildings, to fly on airplanes, to get on a train, buy a firearm, motor voter and all sorts of BS that having nothing to do with driving. Just let it be a ticket to drive and all these problems would go away, just pass the tests and drive PERIOD, FULL STOP!