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Should an undocumented immigrant obtain a license to drive?

In a state outside North Carolina, a recent controversy has erupted concerning a proposed aspect of immigration reform regarding drivers' licenses. Many say that an undocumented immigrant should be able to receive a restricted license. Others are opposed to the idea, saying that only those with appropriate legal statuses should be able to possess licenses to drive.

A pastor from a local church in the area said that he personally knows many undocumented immigrants who drive but live in constant fear that they might be pulled over for a traffic violation and end up facing deportation. He said that these immigrants feel that their entire families are being placed at risk every time they get behind the wheel of a car. The pastor also said that he believes the issue is one of humanity and family matters, not politics.

Several politicians who oppose the idea of granting drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants recently stated that the privilege of driving must be reserved for those who have legal permission to live and work in the United States. The mayor of Bridgeton, New Jersey, where the recent controversy took hold, said that she believes that approximately 45 percent of her local population is Hispanic and largely undocumented. She thinks issuing restricted driving privileges to those in such circumstances would better protect the public, as well as provide a means of identifying those who are living and working in the area.

Many immigrants in North Carolina and elsewhere came to the United States in search of better lives for themselves and their families. An undocumented immigrant might have questions or concerns regarding such legal matters as whether the state plans to adopt a law to allow those without legal status to obtain drivers' licenses or other issues concerning visas, green cards or permanent residency. He or she is able to contact an immigration and naturalization lawyer for consultation as a means of obtaining answers to those questions and seeking guidance in light of his or her individual case.

Source:, "Cumberland County wrestles with giving undocumented immigrants licenses", Thomas Barlas, Sept. 11, 2015

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