North Carolina WILL Issue Driver’s Licenses To DREAMers – With Big Red ‘No Lawful Status’ Label

Children of the DREAM Act; photo Jorge Rivas @ColorLines

Children of the DREAM Act; photo Jorge Rivas @ColorLines

It seems, even if you agree to implement the DREAM Act, you can do so under quiet (or not so quiet) protest, finding a way to make it sting a little even as you’re following the law.

That appears, at least, to be the attitude of red state, North Carolina, in how they’re designing their particular rollout of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. See, they are following the law in issuing driver’s licenses to eligible teens and young adults of undocumented immigrants in their state, but they’ve designed a whole, new, very special license just for them, one with big fat red letters that say: NO LAWFUL STATUS, with a wide hot pink strip at the top so those-in-the-know will know they’re dealing with one of “them” as opposed to any other North Carolinian. See:

NC No Lawful Status license

According to MyFox8, the mandated notion of “legal presence” in the state does not preclude the state from getting creative with how they’re acknowledging these “children of immigrants.” In fact, one local sheriff, Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, believes these colorful cards will benefit said “legally present” teens and young adults in the event they’re pulled over and asked for ID.

“If he has an identification,” explained Sheriff Page, “There’s a better chance he’s going to get a citation or a warning and sent on his way versus ending up at the magistrate’s office and ending up in the local jail.”

Previously, Page said, officers would be required to take a person into custody if he or she were breaking the law and had no identification.

“This will save both the DACA immigrants and law enforcement officers time and money,” he said.

That theory doesn’t impress many of the young adults for whom this card will be issued. In fact, some see it as a distinct form of discrimination:

“It’s a little confusing right now,” said Cara Read, a High Point University student.

Read has lived in America since she was six, has a green card and is currently working to become a U.S. citizen. [… ]

Read said revealing her status as an immigrant, even as a legal one, makes her uneasy. “There’s such a negative conversation around immigration in general. I’m afraid this will confuse employers or anyone looking at my license. It could make them question if I’m here legally, which I am.”

“It’s kind of like a scarlet letter,” she continued. “To put that label on your license and people seeing it? That would make me really uncomfortable.” [Source]

But even as this debate is being had, Republicans in the state are working behind the scenes to try to block the issuance of the licenses, which are set to begin being distributed March 25th. They’ve introduced a bill citing the potential for “voter fraud,” despite the fact that a recent review done in North Carolina found negligible examples of such fraud. American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Raul Pinto spoke to this issue; from Think Progress.

…these driver’s licenses mark undocumented immigrants as second-class residents: “North Carolina should not be making it harder for aspiring citizens to integrate and contribute to our communities by branding them with a second-class driver’s license,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Raul Pinto told the Associated Press. “There is simply no reason for officials to stigmatize people who are in the U.S. legally with an unnecessary marker that could lead to harassment, confusion, and racial profiling.”

So in the months to come the state of North Carolina will either succeed in blocking the issuance of the mandated driver’s licenses for eligible teens and young adults of undocumented immigrants all together, or they’ll start issuing the new design starting March 25th. Either way, the spirit behind the act seems to have been lost on the people of NC, who would rather see these young people continue to live in limbo or walk around with a pink-striped card that loudly proclaims them as having NO LAWFUL STATUS.

North Carolina’s state motto is: “To Be, Rather Than To Seem.” How noble, then, that they seem to be living up to it, by not just seeming unwelcoming, but actually BEING so.



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