The Real ID Act, which recently passed the House by a 261-to-161 vote, has been portrayed by both supporters and opponents as banning drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens. As the sponsor of the bill, Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), told Human Events, “an applicant for a driver’s license or renewal must prove lawful presence in the United States.”
Unfortunately, that’s not completely true. Section 202(c)(2)(C) of the bill says certain kinds of illegal aliens will be allowed to obtain “temporary drivers’ licenses and identification cards.” Those eligible for these temporary cards are listed in 202(c)(2)(B):
EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL STATUS – A State shall require, before issuing a driver’s license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person…
(v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States;
(vi) has a pending application for asylum in the United States;
(vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States;
(viii) has approved deferred action status; or
(ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States or conditional permanent resident status in the United States.
This means that the Real ID Act allows states to give temporary drivers’ licenses to:
-illegal aliens who have been granted a hearing for asylum,
-illegal aliens who have applications pending for temporary protected status, and
-illegal aliens who have applied for amnesty under the 245(i) program.
If the Bush guest worker plan passes, states will also be permitted to grant temporary drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens who apply for a guest worker permit.
I strongly support the Real ID Act. But the bill would be better without the loopholes. Rep. Sensenbrenner’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Thanks to my friend Juan Mann for bringing this to my attention.)
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