Local News

Driver's Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Urged

Posted March 28, 2007 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2007 7:47 p.m. EDT

— A Latino advocacy group has called on state lawmakers to ease the requirements that immigrants have to meet to obtain a driver's license, saying it would make the roads safer.

One of the main thrusts of El Pueblo's legislative agenda is to ensure all drivers on North Carolina roads are properly trained, licensed and insured, regardless of immigration status.

"What we are interested in is having driver's licenses (serve as) some kind of identity document that is safe, that is valid, that allows people to be insured on our roads," said Marisol Jimenez, advocacy director for El Pueblo.

State law requires people applying for driver's licenses to show a valid Social Security card or visa.

Jimenez said the rule affects more than 100,000 people—not just Hispanics—who are driving illegally in North Carolina.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said giving licenses to illegal immigrants isn't an idea that will go far in the state.

"The constituents I represent, and a vast majority of North Carolinians, would think, if someone is here illegally, they should not have a license at all," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "The state of North Carolina should not impact policies that encourage more and more people to come here."

Both Jimenez and Berger said the state's immigration problems are the results of federal policy. North Carolina has one of the fastest-growing illegal populations in the U.S.

"Thousands and thousands of people ... are going to continue living in this state until we can fix a broken immigration system," Jimenez said.

"I call on our congressmen to do something about this situation when we've got a flood of people coming into this country illegally," Berger said.

El Pueblo's legislative agenda also calls for providing all North Carolina students, including illegal immigrants, access to in-state tuition at University of North Carolina system campuses. A similar proposal failed during last year's legislative session.