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Some Critics Upset About New Effort For Immigrant Reform

Posted November 9, 2005

— Members of North Carolina's congressional delegation will soon announce a new effort to keep illegal immigrants from getting a driver's license, but some believe it is the wrong road to immigration reform.

Recently, there have been several round-ups of illegal immigrants in North Carolina. Sen. Fred Smith, R-Johnston, said many of them came to North Carolina for one reason.

"Many illegal immigrants across the eastern part of the United States are flocking to North Carolina to get driver's licenses. I think that's no secret to anyone," he said.

North Carolina is one of handful of states that does not require applicants to prove they are in the country legally. Instead of a Social Security number, they can sign an affidavit and provide a taxpayer identification number instead.

North Carolina congresswoman Sue Myrick wants to prevent North Carolina from accepting taxpayer ID numbers, but advocates for Hispanic immigrants say that would hurt.

"Clearly, it will make it harder -- actually impossible -- for undocumented immigrants to get a driver's license. It will impose a legal presence requirement on driver's licenses," said Marison Jimenez, of El Pueblo.

Jimenez believes the move would not stop illegal immigrants from coming to North Carolina and would, instead, force many immigrants to drive without a license or insurance. She said what is needed is comprehensive immigration reform.

Smith, who supported a similar measure in the state Senate, believes it is a start.

"We've got to have a handle on who's supposed to be here legally and who's not," he said.

On the state level, the Senate passed the measure this session, but it stalled in the House. It could be considered in May.

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