state legislation

Judge tosses lawsuit over driver’s licenses for Dreamers in Nebraska

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state of Nebraska for denying driver’s licenses to Dreamers who have received temporary authorization to stay and work in the United States.

The plaintiff suing the state is Mayra Saldana, a 24-year-old Dreamer born in Mexico who has been residing in Nebraska since she was 2 years old. Last years, she was authorized by the U.S. government to remain in the U.S. for a renewable two-year period under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She was also granted a work permit and a Social Security number.

The latest government statistics show 2,250 Dreamers living in Nebraska have been approved for the DACA program. A total of 521,815 Dreamers have been approved nationwide.

Saldana sued the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles Director Rhonda Lahm in June after the agency denied her a driver’s license even though she had a Social Security number and was authorized to live and work in the U.S. She argued that the DMV policy denying her a driver’s license violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

But on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled that the state had not violated Saldana’s equal-protection rights in denying her a driver’s license.

Smith Camp wrote in her ruling that there was “uncontroverted evidence” that the Nebraska DMV was following the state’s statute and issuing driver’s licenses and state identification cards only to people with a lawful status, as determined by the federal government and verified through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.

“Saldana is not similarly situated to persons having lawful status in the United States with respect to her qualification for a Nebraska driver’s license, and Lahm has not denied Saldana equal protection of the law,” Smith Camp wrote.

The Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who defended the state’s denial of driver’s licenses to Dreamers who’ve been approved for the DACA program, praised Wednesday’s ruling.

“We’re pleased the court dismissed the case and recognized illegal immigrants don’t qualify for Nebraska driver’s licenses,” Bruning said Wednesday. “Today’s ruling validates the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicle’s denial of applications from those without lawful status.”

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund represented Saldana in the lawsuit. Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, once referred to the Nebraska DMV’s policy denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients as a “blatantly discriminatory policy.”

Alonzo Rivas, an attorney for MALDEF in Chicago, is not ready to give up on the case. He is considering other options in response to the judge’s ruling on Wednesday, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska and Arizona are the only two states denying driver’s licenses to Dreamers who’ve been approved for the DACA program. Like in Nebraska, Dreamers in Arizona also filed a lawsuit last year, challenging the state for denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. That case is still pending in court.


 

Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants an issue in three states

In Colorado, Oregon, and California, the granting of driver's licenses to illegal aliens has generated controversy and raised national security concerns that have gone largely unreported.

Colorado: Over two months ago, an ID company, MorphoTrust, erroneously issued 524 standard Colorado driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Under federal law, driver's licenses issued to illegal aliens are required to have a marking that indicates they are not to be used for federal purposes, but these did not. MorphoTrust — which produces IDs for 42 states — has been trying to get the licenses back by offering $100 gift cards to those who return them. I was able to confirm through a Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) official that 189 licenses had remained unaccounted for, but the latest update is that 43 licenses are outstanding.

The federal REAL ID Act — which put a number of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission into effect — standardizes state driver's licenses and seeks to prevent illegal aliens from boarding airplanes, entering government buildings or accessing nuclear power plants. But illegal immigration advocates have pushed some states to offer special driver's licenses just for illegal aliens that are not REAL ID compliant. The movement is part of the effort to blur the distinction between law-abiding residents and foreigners who believe they are above the law.

The Colorado DMV tells me that they have gone door to door as part of the retrieval effort, which is commendable, but the question of what happens if all cards cannot be located looms large. Some have argued the error might allow the recipients to register to vote and/or get additional licenses in other states. If people wishing to do harm to Americans have any of these licenses, they are not going to give them up willingly.

Oregon: After Oregon legislators moved forward with a plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens, a group opposed to the proposal gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a public vote. Polling suggests that nearly two-thirds of Oregon voters oppose the plan. This, despite the fact that supporters have spent over 11 times as much money as opponents.

A big controversy erupted when the fact-checking group PolitiFact decided to look into claims made by radio host Lars Larson that the proposed licenses would allow illegal aliens to board airplanes. PolitiFact determined that Larson is correct after speaking with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official. The problem is that language on the ballot actually states that Measure 88 would not allow illegal aliens to board planes. This language was written by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has not posted an explanation or apology on its website (and it remains unclear whether the error was by accident or by design).

The TSA official has not explained exactly why the licenses would allow illegal aliens to board planes, but a couple of factors are likely at play. First, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly given compliance deadline extensions to at least 21 states and territories, extensions that were supposed to have expired on Oct. 10, 2014. But states can reapply for the extensions (Massachusetts, Kentucky and Montana recently received extensions). Oregon also had an extension, but it is unclear whether the state has received yet another one. Second, DHS has dragged its feet on enforcing the REAL ID Act and under their current plans, noncompliant IDs will prevent people from boarding airplanes "no sooner than 2016."

The REAL ID Act law was enacted in 2005 and supposed to take effect in 2008.

It should also be noted that the proposed measure would instruct the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division to accept foreign consular IDs as proof of an illegal alien's identity. These consular IDs are completely unverifiable by U.S. officials and have been considered a national security threat by the FBI.

California: One open-border group helped create driver's licenses so dangerous to national security that DHS stopped their design from going forward. The REAL ID Act allows states some freedom in how they differentiate between a regular driver's license and ones reserved for illegal immigrants that are not valid for federal purposes. Advocates of illegal immigration have been demanding that states make the licenses given to illegal aliens look almost identical to the licenses given to legal residents, even though it makes a security officer's job more difficult.

California's plan was to make the driver's license for illegal aliens look identical, save for one tiny difference: the small, 6-point-font text on the card that reads "DL" (meaning "Driver’s License") would simply be switched to read "DP" (meaning "Driving Privilege"). The difference is nearly imperceptible as my mock-up illustrates. That California would conclude the interests of illegal aliens are so important that it's worth increasing the chances the TSA would miss the denotation is troubling. All four passenger jets involved in the 9/11 attack were bound for California and many Californians lost their lives that day.

Just recently, DHS approved a more distinctive version of the driver's license that reportedly will have the words "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" written on the front. Some states orient the IDs vertically, which really helps to differentiate from regular licenses. Pro-illegal immigration groups oppose these measures because they fear illegal aliens will be treated differently than those who are here legally. Of course, illegal aliens are supposed to be treated differently — they're to be deported in accordance with federal law.

Unfortunately, many activist groups and politicians have concluded that helping illegal aliens hide their lawlessness is more important than preventing another 9/11. Congress should consider tightening up the REAL ID standards. If problems like this continue, it wouldn't be surprising if voters in many states initiated referenda or legislation aimed at stopping the issuance of driver's licenses to people in the country illegally.

Feere is the legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies.

 

Redmond Patriots to welcome OFIR President

Alert date: 
2014-08-10
Alert body: 
For all our OFIR and PODL friends in the Bend and Redmond area - please plan to attend the upcoming Redmond Patriots meeting.  OFIR President and Authorized Agent of the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses citizens veto referendum Cynthia Kendoll will be the featured speaker of the evening.

Date: Monday, August 11  Time: 6pm

Location: Highland Baptist Church, 3100 SW Highland Ave., Redmond OR            
 

 

In political sea change, immigrants in the US illegally can get driver's licenses in Colorado

DENVER — Colorado will begin issuing driver's licenses and identification cards to immigrants Friday regardless of their legal status, underscoring a sea change in a state that less than a decade ago passed strict immigration enforcement laws.

Now, thousands of immigrants are waiting to get cards they hope will add a degree of legitimacy to their residency...

Last year, Colorado was among eight states that passed laws allowing identification documents for people in the country illegally. Two of those states, Illinois and Nevada, have already started issuing the documents. California plans to start in January....

"It's going to help us so that, for example, we're not put in the hands of immigration officials, so police don't view us as if we were criminals," she said in an interview in Spanish. "I think it's going to give us a valid identification to show police."...

The documents must be renewed every three years, and the cards will be marked to say they can't be used for voting or to obtain federal benefits.

In Oregon, one of the eight states that passed a driver's license legislation last year, opponents collected enough signatures to put the law on hold and ask voters in November whether it should be implemented.

 

Vote NO in NOvember to stop this from happening in Oregon

Colorado passed a driver card bill last year, similar to the one passed in Oregon.  Unfortunately, the option of a citizen's veto referendum was taken away from the citizens of Colorado with the issuance of a 'public safety clause', similar to the over-used emergency clause here in Oregon.

Fortunately, Protect Oregon Driver Licenses filed a veto referendum and citizen activists from across the state of Oregon worked diligently to gather over 77,000 signatures so that the issue of granting driver cards to illegal aliens could be placed on the ballot allowing voters to decide if they want Oregon to go down this path.

Read about what's happening in Colorado and then remember to Vote NO in NOvember!

 


 

Non-Citizen Driver’s Licenses Bogging Down Colorado DMV

A new kind of driver’s license for non-citizens will soon be available but even before the Department of Motor Vehicles can issue them, advance requests are clogging up the system.

Tens of thousands of drivers in Colorado are calling the DMV to register for the new ID which is clogging the system.

Those licenses are the result of a law passed last year that aims to improve public safety by making sure every driver in Colorado, regardless of their legal status, has a license.

The law doesn’t take effect until Aug. 1 but the DMV began making appointments on Tuesday for applicants. In the first day they scheduled 823 appointments, by phone and online; that’s more than 100 per hour. Thousands of others were not able to get through.

“I try and try and try,” said America Carbajalo, a driver who tried to call to make an appointment for applying for the new non-citizen licenses.

Those without a Social Security number, including illegal immigrants, are eligible for driver’s licenses or identification cars if they can prove they live in Colorado, have been paying taxes and have applied for citizenship.

In order to comply with federal law, the cards are marked “Not Valid For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes.”

“I think they didn’t understand how important this is to the immigrant community, didn’t anticipate people chomping at the bit to get driver’s licenses and do things the right way,” said Gabriela Flora, who helped get the law passed.

She said the DMV expected 45,000 applicants the first y ear but it will likely be double that.

Carbajalo, a native of Mexico, has been waiting 16 years to drive her granddaughter and isn’t about to give up.

“I try everyday. I need an appointment. I need my license,” said Carbajalo.

Massachusetts Committee Defeats Illegal Alien Driver's License Bill

Legislation that would make illegal aliens eligible to receive driver's licenses and learner's permits in Massachusetts failed this session because of its lack of support among constituents and within the Massachusetts legislature. Last week, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation voted to send House Bill ("H.B.") 3285 to study, effectively killing consideration of the legislation this session. (Boston Globe, Jun. 24, 2014).

H.B. 3285 would have removed the provision in Massachusetts law that requires an applicant to provide a Social Security Number for proof of identity in order to receive a driver's license or learner's permit. (H.B. 3285) The bill would have also prohibited the registrar of the Department of Motor Vehicles from denying a driver's license or learner's permit to any person who fails to provide evidence of immigration status. (Id.)

Massachusetts Representative Marc Lombardo, who represents the 22nd Middlesex District, opposed H.B. 3285 because he believes the legislation would create a "magnet" by encouraging illegal aliens to move to Massachusetts, and serve as a shield against the enforcement of federal law. (MassLive, Mar. 11, 2014) "To give identification to those who are illegally here allows our ID to essentially mean nothing. It becomes a form of ID that allows those that are illegally here to hide in society with those who are legally here," said Representative Lombardo. (Id.)

Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore, who represents the Worcester and Norfolk District, also opposed H.B. 3285. "I don't think it will make the roads any safer," Senator Moore said. "The individuals who are here violated the law to be here and remain here and I don't see how granting them licenses guarantees they'll obey traffic laws any better than they do immigration laws." (Telegram, Mar. 16, 2014) Senator Moore further noted, "Illegal immigration needs to addressed — not changing our laws at the state level to make someone who is here illegally, entitled to a privilege. Driving is a privilege." (Id.)

Legislators were not the only true immigration reformers to speak out against the bill. H.B. 3285 faced strong opposition during its hearing in March in the Joint Committee on Transportation by community leaders. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson was among those who testified against H.B. 3285. He said the proposal would reward people who violated federal immigration laws and warned that granting licenses would not mean safer roads. (Boston Globe, Mar. 6, 2014) "We are a country of laws," Hodgson told the committee. (Id.) "If we begin to tell people that we'll make exceptions for any group, then we have to honestly ask ourselves, do the laws really matter?" (Id.)

Massachusetts Senator Patricia Jehlen, a sponsor of H.B. 3285, advocated on behalf of the measure, arguing that immigration status should not be a bar to getting a driver's license or learner's permit. (WWLP, Jun. 23, 2014) "I'd rather everybody or more people on the roads who are driving have taken the test and having insurance." (Id.) However, there is little evidence to suggest illegal aliens who fail the driving test will not drive, since many claim to drive unlicensed already. Similarly, data from New Mexico, who has issued driver's licenses to illegal aliens since 2003, suggests that granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens would in fact increase the rate of uninsured drivers, not reduce it. New Mexico is now home to the nation's second highest percentage of uninsured drivers. (Insurance Research Council, 2011)

The defeat of H.B. 3285 marks a victory for true immigration reform. So far in 2014, eleven states have considered legislation that would enable illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses and identification cards, and none have passed.

 

Six year report: Criminal aliens incarcerated in the Oregon Dept. of Corrections

According to the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Inmate Population Profile dated May 1, 2014 DOC indicated there were 14,657 prisoners incarcerated in DOC’s 14 prisons (See attachment).

Not included in DOC’s May 1st Inmate Population Profile was DOC data indicating there were 1,133 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) incarcerated in its prison system (See attachment).

All 1,133 criminal aliens incarcerated on May 1st by DOC had United States (U.S.) Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detainers. The U.S. DHS–ICE is responsible for indentifying whether a DOC inmate is a criminal alien or a domestic inmate. If an inmate is identified as being a criminal alien, at U.S. DHS–ICE’s request, the DOC places an “ICE detainer” on the inmate that directs DOC officials to transfer custody to ICE following completion of the inmate’s state sanction.

Criminal aliens made up approximately 7.73% of the DOC May 1st prison population (See table).

 

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Month/Day/Year

DOC Total Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC % Inmates W/ICE detainers

May 1, 2008

13,614

12,544

1,070

7.86%

May 1, 2009

13,907

12,731

1,176

8.46%

May 1, 2010

13,998

12,764

1,234

8.82%

May 1, 2011

14,038

12,775

1,263

9.00%

May 1, 2012

14,057

12,787

1,270

9.03%

May 1, 2013

14,396

13,201

1,195

8.30%

May 1, 2014

14,657

13,524

1,133

7.73%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

Comparing DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers from May 1, 2008 (1,070 criminal aliens) and May 1, 2014 (1,133 criminal aliens), the DOC prison system incarcerated 63 criminal aliens more than it did on May 1, 2008, a 5.89% increase (See table).

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Month/Day/Year

DOC Total Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

May 1, 2008

1,070

————

————

May 1, 2009

1,176

106

9.91%

May 1, 2010

1,234

58

4.93%

May 1, 2011

1,263

29

2.35%

May 1, 2012

1,270

7

0.55%

May 1, 2013

1,195

(75)

(5.90%)

May 1, 2014

1,133

(62)

(5.19%)

Total

63

5.89%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

When comparing DOC domestic criminal incarceration numbers from May 1, 2008 (12,544 domestic criminals) and May 1, 2014 (13,524 domestic criminals), the DOC prison system incarcerated 980 domestic criminals more than it did on May 1, 2008, a 7.81% increase (See table).

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Month/Day/Year

DOC Total Domestic Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Domestic Inmates % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

May 1, 2008

12,544

————

————

May 1, 2009

12,731

187

1.49%

May 1, 2010

12,764

33

0.26%

May 1, 2011

12,775

11

0.09%

May 1, 2012

12,787

12

0.09%

May 1, 2013

13,201

414

3.24%

May 1, 2014

13,524

323

2.45%

Total

980

7.81%

Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

Bringing the preceding numbers together, from May 1st 2008 – 2014, six years, the DOC prison population grew by 1,043 domestic and criminal alien prisoners; 6.04% of the overall growth was in criminal alien prisoners.

A review of the 1,133 criminal aliens in DOC prisons by number per county and percentage (%) per county equated to the following: 0-Baker (0.00%); 15-Benton (1.32%); 78-Clackamas (6.88%); 4-Clatsop (0.35%); 1-Columbia (0.09%); 5-Coos (0.44%); 2-Crook (0.18%); 0-Curry (0.00%); 19-Deschutes (1.68%); 5-Douglas (0.44%); 1-Gilliam (0.09%); 0-Grant (0.00%); 0-Harney (0.00%); 5-Hood River (0.44%); 49-Jackson (4.32%); 9-Jefferson (0.79%); 7-Josephine (0.62%); 8-Klamath (0.71%); 0-Lake (0.00); 58-Lane (5.12%); 9-Lincoln (0.79%); 28-Linn (2.47%); 12-Malheur (1.06%); 266-Marion (23.48%); 4-Morrow (0.35%); 275-Multnomah (24.27%); 1-OOS (0.09%); 17-Polk (1.50%); 0-Sherman (0.00%); 4-Tillamook (0.35%); 19-Umatilla (1.68%); 3-Union (0.26); 0-Wallowa (0.00%); 3-Wasco (0.26%); 195-Washington (17.21%); 0-Wheeler (0.00%); and 31-Yamhill (2.74%).

No member of the Oregon State Legislature should forget the uncounted crime victims and their families, no matter what their immigration status, all victims of the 1,133 criminal aliens incarcerated in DOC prisons.

A review of the 1,133 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers per crime and percentage (%) per crime equated to the following: 2-arsons (0.18%); 105-assaults (9.27%); 24-burglaries (2.12%); 14-driving offenses (1.23%); 175-drugs (15.44%); 0-escape (0.00%); 3-forgeries (0.26%); 146-homicides (12.89%); 47-kidnappings (4.15%); 57-others (5.03%); 176-rapes (15.53%); 67-robberies (5.91%); 207-sex abuses (18.27%); 93-sodomies (8.21%); 12-thefts (1.06%); and 5-vehicle thefts (0.44%).

Oregon State Legislators should not overlook the source of the preceding crimes, the country of origin of the 1,133 criminal aliens in DOC prisons.

The self-declared counties of origin of the 1,133 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers and percentage (%) per country equated to the following: 6-Canada (0.53%); 11-Cuba (0.97%); 15-El Salvador (1.32%); 7-Federated States of Micronesia (0.62%); 32-Guatemala (2.82%); 11-Honduras (0.97%); 6-Laos (0.53%); 918-Mexico (81.02%); 83-others (7.32%); 6-Philippines (0.53%); 9-Russia (0.79%); 12-Ukraine (1.06%); and 17-Vietnam (1.50%).

Beyond the DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers and incarceration percentages, per county and per crime type, or even country of origin, criminal aliens pose high economic cost on Oregonians.

An individual prisoner incarcerated in the DOC prison system costs the state approximately ($87.08) per day; the cost to incarcerate a prisoner increased ($2.27) per day in May 2014, a 2.67% increase from 2013’s cost of ($84.81) per day (See link).

http://www.oregon.gov/doc/GECO/docs/pdf/IB_53_quick_facts.pdf

The DOC’s incarceration cost for its 1,133 criminal alien prison population is approximately ($98,661.64) per day, ($690,631.48) per week, and ($36,011,498.60) per year.

Even taking into account fiscal year 2013 United States Federal Government State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) award of $2,146,935.00, if the State of Oregon receives the same amount of SCAAP funding for fiscal year 2014, the cost to incarcerate 1,133 criminal aliens to the DOC will be at least ($33,864,563.60) (See link).

https://www.bja.gov/Funding/13SCAAPawards.pdf

None of preceding cost estimates for the DOC to incarcerate the 1,133 criminal aliens include the dollar amount for legal services (indigent defense), court costs, nor cost estimates to cover victim assistance.

An unfortunate fact, the State of Oregon is not fully cooperating with the U.S. DHS–ICE to fight crime committed by criminal aliens who reside in Oregon.

In year 2007, a United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) report titled “Cooperation of SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) Recipients in the Removal of Criminal Aliens from the United States, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General Audit Division, Audit Report 07-07, May 2007, Redacted-Public Version” identified the State of Oregon as having an official “state sanctuary statute,” ORS 181.850 Enforcement of federal immigration laws (See link).

http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/reports/OJP/a0707/final.pdf

The USDOJ, the federal governments top law enforcement agency, identified Oregon as a “sanctuary” for criminal aliens.

An Oregon law, Oregon Revised Statue 181.850 (ORS 181.850), Section (1), prohibits Oregon law enforcement (Oregon State Police (OSP), county sheriffs, city police departments) from asking immigration status of anyone residing in the State of Oregon “for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Under ORS 181.850, Section (2), Oregon law enforcement may exchange information with U.S. DHS–ICE . . . “in order to: Subsection (a), “Verify the immigration status of a person if the person is arrested for any criminal offense;” or, Subsection (b), “Request criminal investigation information with reference to persons named in records of the” U.S. DHS–ICE . . . (See link).

http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/2013ors181.html

The State of Oregon should no longer be classified by U.S. federal government law enforcement as having an official “state sanctuary statute” for criminal aliens, nor should Oregon be a sanctuary for criminal aliens to kill, rape, maim or abuse Oregonians.

 

Feds reject design of driver's license for immigrants in U.S. illegally

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rejected California’s initial design for a driver’s license for immigrants in the country illegally, saying it is not distinguishable enough from permits given citizens.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will go back to the drawing board and redesign the driver’s license, according to Armando Botello, a spokesman for the agency.

“While we are disappointed by this ruling, the DMV will continue to work vigorously with lawmakers, affected communities and federal officials to design a license that complies with federal law and allows over a million undocumented California residents to drive legally and safely on state roads,” Botello said in a statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill last year that would provide driver’s licenses to those in the country illegally so they can drive to jobs and be required to take a test to show they are safe drivers.

The proposed design rejected by federal officials is different from a regular driver's license in two ways. Instead of the initials DL for "driver's license," it has the initials DP for "driving privilege" on the front. On the back, the license has a disclaimer saying it is not usable for federal purposes, which include identification for boarding a plane.

The notation says the document "does not establish eligibility for employment or public benefit."

The federal officials wrote that the Real ID Act requires markings “to allow Federal officials to quickly determine whether a license or identification card may be acceptable for official purposes” including “accessing Federal facilities, boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft or entering nuclear power plants.”

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and Sen. Ricardo Lara, chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus, wrote to the secretary of homeland security urging him to reconsider the rejection.

"I also would urge you to provide assurance that DHS will not seek or use information provided by driver's license applicants for civil immigration enforcement purposes," Steinberg wrote.

Undocumented immigrants win big with in-state tuition, law license votes

TALLAHASSEE —
As students in the Senate gallery wiped tears from their eyes and the voice of the bill’s sponsor cracked, the Senate approved a measure Thursday that would grant in-state tuition to immigrant students brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Afterward, undocumented students, parents and supporters who had sat on the floor outside the doors to the Senate all week cried, pumped their fists in the air and took selfies with the Senate version’s sponsor, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

“I’m a big softy,” said Latvala, whose voice cracked during his final remarks before the vote. “This is a big deal. It’s one of the things we’ll remember the rest of our lives.”

Two hours after the vote Gov. Rick Scott held an impromptu press conference in the rotunda.

“It’s an exciting day for every student that dreams of a college education,” Scott said. Then, after thanking lawmakers, Scott took a quick swipe at Charlie Crist, his opponent in the governor’s race.” This corrects the wrongs of Charlie Crist.”

It was the second vote of the day in the Republican-controlled Legislature in support of immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

Earlier Thursday, the House approved legislation (CS/HB 755) that would allow the Florida Supreme Court to admit a Tampa man as a lawyer, even though he remains an undocumented immigrant, brought to the state from Mexico when he was 9 years old.

The court earlier this year declined Jose Godinez-Samperio’s bid to become a lawyer, citing a federal restriction. But justices also urged lawmakers to change state law to override the federal ban — a move set for a final vote today in the Senate.

The tuition bill (HB 851) similarly must return to the House for a final vote because of changes made in the Senate since the House initially passed it.

The politics behind the developments, though, may be rooted in the upcoming governor’s race. Polls show Scott doing poorly with Florida Hispanics.

A Quinnipiac University survey before the session began showed Crist holding a two-to-one lead over Scott with Hispanic voters. As a candidate in 2010, Scott campaigned in support of a tough, Arizona-styled anti-immigration law, but failed to pursue such an effort as governor.

Scott’s appointment of Carlos Lopez-Cantero as lieutenant governor earlier this year also was seen as an attempt to bolster the governor’s prospects with the key voting bloc in Florida.

House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale pointed out after the in-state tuition bill passed, that similar measures had been introduced in the Florida Legislature since 2002. Each year, ruling Republicans blocked it.

“We’ve tried to get this bill passed because it’s something we truly believe in,” Thurston said. “It’s not something that we’re doing because it’s politically expedient.”

The Senate voted 26-13 in favor of the tuition bill after an hour of impassioned speeches for and against the measure.

Speaking against the bill, Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville, asked the same question he posed during earlier debates: “Does being an American matter any more?”

“The laws aren’t being followed any more and we’re rewarding those who don’t follow the law,” Bean said. “We are giving so many benefits to non-citizens.”

Students wearing orange mortar board in support of the measure wiped away tears as Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, recalled her experience as a black fifth grader in 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation in schools and the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

“I never gave up my dream for equality,” Joyner said, addressing the students directly. “You are not to be blamed for wanting to be the best.”

The bill garnered unanimous support from Senate Democrats along with votes from several Republicans, including Sen. John Thrasher, R-Augustine, Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. Opponents of the bill included Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville and Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

The legislation that would help Godinez-Sampiero is narrowly tailored.

It would affect only someone who has lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, came to the country as a child, is authorized to work and has been issued a Social Security number.

For males, the potential Bar member also would have had to signed up for Selective Service, which Godinez-Sampiero has done.

Godinez-Sampiero, who graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 2011 and passed the Florida Bar exam and its moral character test, watched the House vote Thursday from the public gallery and later acknowledged that combined with the tuition bill, it made for a remarkable day.

“The Florida Legislature is clearly moving in the right direction, recognizing the importance of immigrants in this state,” said Godinez-Sampiero. “I believe we are number four in the nation for immigrants…we’re great contributors to the economy. And the Florida Legislature is recognizing that.”
 
 

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