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1/15 ACTION ALERT: Oppose Federal Restrictions on Drivers Licenses

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2005
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      Please respond by Friday, Jan. 21 at noon EST if your organization will sign
      on to the above letter. Responses should be directed to Essence Ward of the
      National Immigration Law Center at _ward@..._
      (mailto:ward@...) .
      As we advised you recently, we expect Rep. Sensenbrenner to introduce a bill
      with federally mandated driver's license restrictions and other
      anti-immigrant provisions. We prepared a sign-on letter that will let all members of
      Congress know that they should not sponsor or support driver's license
      restriction in this bill as well as in similar bills that may be introduced in the
      House and Senate.
      Our thanks to all of you who have been calling your representatives urging
      them not to co-sponsor the Sensenbrenner bill.
      For more information please contact:
      Joan Friedland, National Immigration Law Center, _friedland@..._
      (mailto:friedland@...) , 202-216-0261
      Tyler Moran, National Immigration Law Center, _moran@..._
      (mailto:moran@...) , 208-333-1424
      Michele Waslin, National Council of la Raza, _mwaslin@..._
      (mailto:mwaslin@...) , 202-776-1735
      Letter to the Members of Congress re: Drivers Licenses
      Dear Member of Congress:
      The undersigned organizations wish to express our profound concerns over
      legislation that will impose federal restrictions on immigrants’ eligibility for
      state driver’s licenses. Chairman Sensenbrenner has vowed to introduce
      such a bill in the House in the near future. This and similar legislation will
      not protect the U.S. from terrorism and may, in fact, make us less safe.
      Immigrants and U.S. citizens alike will be harmed by requirements that result in
      an increased number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers on our roads.
      We ask you to oppose proposals that impose federal immigrant driver’s
      license requirements for the following reasons –
      Congress already passed driver’s license legislation in late December 2004.
      House Republicans have claimed that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
      Prevention Act of 2004 ignored driver’s licenses. This is simply untrue. The
      Intelligence Act explicitly addresses the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation
      that the “federal government … set standards for the issuance of birth
      certificates and sources of identification such as driver’s licenses.” The law
      requires the federal government to set federal standards for driver’s licenses
      including standards for documentation required as proof of identity of an
      applicant; standards for the processing of applications to prevent fraud;
      standards for information to be included on driver’s licenses; and security
      standards to ensure that licenses are resistant to tampering, alteration, or
      counterfeiting. These standards are to be set by the Department of Transportation
      through a “negotiated rulemaking” process that includes relevant stakeholders
      such as state elected officials and state motor vehicle departments. The
      current process allows the states to maintain their ability to set eligibility
      standards, while also recognizing the need to prevent against identity theft
      and fraud, Congress shouldn’t ignore the hard work and thoughtfulness that
      went into Intelligence Act by overturning this new law.
      A lawful presence requirement would not have prevented the September 11,
      2001 attacks. Chairman Sensenbrenner has claimed that if his proposed
      provisions had been in place in September 2001, the terrorist would not have been
      issued driver’s licenses and the terrorist attacks would not have occurred. The
      fact is that the terrorists were issued visas and permitted legal entry into
      the U.S. Their lawful presence would have qualified all of them for drivers
      ’ licenses._[1]_ (#_ftn1) Additionally, none of the terrorists obtained a
      driver’s license in a state that does not require immigrants to be lawfully
      in the U.S. Furthermore, the terrorists did not need U.S.-issued driver’s
      licenses to board the planes on September 11; they had foreign passports that
      allowed them to do so.
      A federal requirement that driver’s licenses expire with immigration visas
      is ineffective. Visas and immigration statuses do not have uniform
      documentation nor do they have simple expiration dates. A variety of documents may
      prove immigration status, and documents may have expiration dates even though the
      status does not. Linking driver’s licenses to visa expiration date presumes
      order, consistency and logic that simply do not exist in the immigration
      system. Furthermore, many non-citizens are still lawfully in the country even
      though their immigration document may have expired. For example, a
      non-immigrant who has applied for extension of a visa is lawfully present while
      awaiting a decision on the application. But for driver’s license purposes, they
      will appear to be out of status. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security
      (DHS) is hopelessly behind on processing immigration applications and changes
      in or extensions of status. DHS backlogs will prevent many non-citizens
      from obtaining or proving their status in order to get a driver’s license. DHS
      backlogs will only increase if the agency’s resources must be consumed in
      proving immigration status for driver’s license purposes.
      Immigration law is complex. Proposals like the Sensenbrenner bill not only
      impose a lawful presence requirement on all 50 states, but also limit the
      definition of “lawful presence” to certain legal immigrants and exclude all
      others. A federal law that creates a lawful presence requirement would require
      states to rewrite their laws to comply with federal law, reprogram their
      systems, and train staff to understand immigration documents. Errors will likely
      result as DMV personnel try to learn to interpret complicated immigration law
      provisions. Distinguishing between immigrant, nonimmigrant, and other
      applicants, as well as understanding when visas expire, is complicated and very
      difficult without proper training. As a result, many immigrants – and even U.S.
      citizens – will be denied licenses.
      Restrictions which prevent immigrants from getting licenses will result in
      unsafe roads and communities. Like all Americans, immigrants must drive to
      work and to school and to the doctor. Without access to state-issued driver’s
      licenses, the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road will
      increase. This will result in higher insurance costs, more drivers who flee
      the site of an accident, over-stretched courtrooms, and an increased market
      for fraudulent licenses. As shown by recent evidence from states that issue
      driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status, the number of uninsured
      drivers drops when immigration restrictions are dropped.
      While we share your concern with security, we urge you to consider the
      negative consequences of linking driver’s licenses to immigration status. We
      also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to fix our
      broken immigration system and to make immigration lawful and safe. Preventing
      immigrants from obtaining licenses is not an effective means to prevent terrorism
      and is harmful to all Americans. Please oppose any proposal that would
      impose such restrictions.

      National Immigrant Solidarity Network
      No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
      webpage: _http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org_
      New York: (212)330-8172
      Los Angeles: (213)403-0131

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