Undocumented Immigrants Need Driver’s Licenses, Say Florida Activists

Sep 15, 2014 | Charlie Crist

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Immigration attorneys in Miami encounter a very common conundrum among their undocumented immigrant clients – many need a driver’s license, not just to drive but also to travel, rent or buy a house and clear a host of many other hurdles legal residents don’t have to worry about.

Undocumented immigrants find it truly stressful not having a driver license, because they live in constant fear about being stopped, jailed, and finally deported.

In addition, many undocumented immigrants have lost jobs owing to a lack of a driver’s license. This becomes an issue with serious repercussions, because without a license, they have lost income. Not having a driver’s license translates to no means of support for themselves, of for their families.

To address this growing issue, immigration activists have launched a new campaign aimed at convincing the state legislature to pass a law allowing foreign nationals without immigration status to apply for driver licenses. There are more than 900,000 undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in Florida.

Activists say the issue is all the more relevant in light of President Barack Obama’s decision to delay until after the November elections his plan to grant immigration status to many undocumented immigrants via executive orders.

Most Miami immigration lawyers agree on one thing – driver licenses are very important. Families of immigrants face the fear of deportation for being in the highways, and case after case that Miami immigration lawyers see of deportations is due to driving without a license.

Often, police officers who detain an immigrant driving without a license will arrest him or her, and then immigration authorities pick up the foreign national and start deportation proceedings.

FLIC, in coordination with about 70 other organizations, is spearheading the pro-driver license campaign to accomplish these major goals:

– Gathering 10,000 signatures from the public statewide supporting driver licenses for the undocumented.

– Knocking on the doors of 20,000 voters statewide urging them to vote for candidates who support the drive.

Approaching prominent personalities such as Republican Gov. Rick Scott, his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist and others to support the effort.

– Advising everyone that allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver licenses improves public safety because they can be tested for driving skills and will be able to buy insurance.

Activists are seeking to turn Florida into the 12th state in the nation to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver licenses. Drive Safe Sunshine State is the official title of the campaign.

Charlie Crist, who is running for the Florida governor’s office, has indirectly signaled his support by agreeing to pose next to Florida activist Bilbao, who was carrying a large mock-up of a Florida license at a recent event in Miami Gardens. Bilbao also showed up Wednesday night in Hialeah when Crist opened a new campaign office there.

Current Republican Governor Rick Scott has a different perspective on the issue. In 2013, Scott vetoed a bill that would have allowed driver’s licenses for some undocumented immigrants— namely, young people given reprieves from deportation under President Barack Obama’s program for those who arrived as children to the United States.

For more information about undocumented immigrants or deportation relief, please contact Miami immigration attorney The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com .