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North Carolina activist promotes licenses for illegal immigrants

In 2006, North Carolina prohibited illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses. Those who managed to get a license immediately before the General Assembly changed the law will see those licenses expire this year, however.

According to one North Carolina immigration activist, whether illegal immigrants should be given a license remains a pressing issue because many will still drive in the absence of proper documentation. They must travel to the store, drop children off at school and go to work. The activist avers that having so many unlicensed drivers is a public safety problem that should be addressed by the General Assembly.

Her solution would allow illegal immigrants to become eligible for driver's licenses once again. But her plan would also require illegal immigrants to insure their cars and perform all of the duties required of other drivers. In addition, license applicants would first have to undergo a criminal background check.

The activist laid out her plan in a letter to legislators, but she has not yet received a direct reply. Some lawmakers have made public statements on the issue, however. It is not exactly clear what support exists for the activist's proposal in the General Assembly and the public at large.

Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has made clear that it is focusing its resources on "high priority" immigration cases, deportation is still an imminent concern for many illegal immigrants. Those who do end up in deportation proceedings do have some options, however. It is important that illegal immigrants in North Carolina understand their rights if they are taken into custody by ICE or by a local law enforcement agency.

Source:, "NC Driver licenses for illegal immigrants?" Sarah Batista, Oct. 16, 2012

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