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Driving privileges and undocumented immigrants in North Carolina

A recent session of the North Carolina House Finance Committee resulted in a heated debate. The issue at hand was whether undocumented immigrants should be granted driving privileges in the state. The chairman stated that the debaters had exceeded their time limit; therefore, the proposed bill would have to be reintroduced for a possible vote at a later date.

The proposed legislation involves a restricted identification that advocates believe should be issued to undocumented immigrants who wish to obtain a valid driver's permit. Those eligible for the restricted ID would have to undergo a background check, as well as demonstrate proof of residence and identity. Applicants would then have to pass a driving test and acquire valid liability insurance on their vehicles.

In support of the proposed legislation, one representative stated that there are as many as 110,000 undocumented immigrants operating motor vehicles on North Carolina roadways. According to the representative, the new bill would help hold all drivers accountable to state traffic laws. Those who oppose the legislation claim that issuing the restricted identification and valid licenses to undocumented immigrants would be an inadvertent approval of their illegal statuses.

Advocates stressed that the temporary driving permit would only be valid for one year. It was also stated that the restricted license would not be available for use in obtaining public assistance, voter registration or other government services. The contentious debate continues in North Carolina and elsewhere. Immigrants who are concerned with pending legislation or are facing other legal issues regarding their statuses may wish to consult an attorney who has experience in immigration and naturalization law.

Source: wral.com, "Idea of driving permits for illegal immigrants divides House committee", Harry Warren, June 2, 2015

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