Local News

Civil rights groups want NC licenses reinstated for some immigrants

Posted January 14, 2013 3:07 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2013 5:10 p.m. EST

— Two North Carolina civil rights groups want the state to reinstate licenses for young immigrants with work permits.

The American Civil Liberties of North Carolina Legal Foundation of North Carolina and the North Carolina Justice Center sent a letter Friday to the state attorney general's office, urging the office to advise the state Division of Motor Vehicles to continue issuing driver’s licenses to those who qualify under what's known as the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The program blocks deportation for those who arrived to the U.S. before they turned 16, are under age 31 and have graduated high school, attended college or served in the military.

Until recently, the DMV had been granting licenses to those who had been granted a two-year work permit under the federal program but stopped until it received a legal opinion from the state attorney general.

The ACLU and N.C. Justice Center wrote in its letter that the effected immigrants are "legally present" in the U.S. and are eligible to obtain all the information the DMV needs to issue licenses, including Social Security numbers.

In a statement Tuesday, the DMV said it raised concerns in early September that the Deferred Action program might not conform to state law and stopped issuing the permits until the attorney general's office could issue a legal opinion on the matter.

An internal review of DMV's records last week, however, found that 13 licenses had been unintentionally issued to applicants.

"To maintain consistency of policy, the DMV mailed notification to these applicants on Jan. 11 letting them know their licenses were issued in error," according to the statement. "Therefore, their driving privileges have been canceled. Once the AG’s office issues an opinion, a determination about issuing licenses to DACA applicants will be made."