D.C. Council panel OKs driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

July 4, 2013

A D.C. Council committee Tuesday adopted a provision into legislation introduced by the mayor that would allow illegal immigrants to get the same driver’s licenses as other D.C. residents.

The Committee on Transportation and the Environment voted 5-0 in favor of a bill that would pave the way for the estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants living in the District to obtain licenses devoid of any markings that could indicate their immigration status.

Under the original legislation, proposed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the licenses would have included a disclosure — a marking or a stamp — stating it is not a form of federal identification so that the District’s licenses would still comply with the federal guidelines created by the Real ID Act.

Activists, while supportive of the legislation, argued that driver’s licenses with a marking could be used to single out illegal immigrants and disagreed with the two-tiered system shot down by the council committee.

“Marking the licenses of undocumented District residents sends a symbolic message,” a committee report on the bill said. “It tells those residents that although the government supports expanding the opportunities for them to engage in city life, those opportunities must come at a cost: that because they are undocumented they are part of a sub-class of District residents.”

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