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Under Plan, Undocumented Immigrants Will Get Special D.C. Driver's License

Under the new plan, undocumented immigrants would receive a special driver's license.
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Under the new plan, undocumented immigrants would receive a special driver's license.

The D.C. Council is backtracking on its plan to give undocumented immigrants regular driver's licenses.

An initial bill passed by the Council earlier this year would have defied a federal law known as the Real ID Act by creating the same driver's license for every D.C. resident, regardless of immigration status. At the time, Council members said it was unclear if the federal government would ever enforce the law.

But according to the Washington Post, the District will go back to the original plan Mayor Vincent Gray proposed and the Council considered so that D.C. complies with federal security rules — a two-class system of licenses.

Under the plan, residents who could not prove their legal status would receive licenses specially marked "Not valid for official federal purposes," limiting them from using the IDs to board an airplane, for example.

The two-tier system had been opposed by immigration advocates who fear it will lead to profiling of undocumented workers.

Council Member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who chairs the committee overseeing the license issue, tells the Post that after meeting with officials from Homeland Security it became clear that the federal government would soon begin enforcing the Real ID Act.

That means if it went along with the plan giving regular IDs to everyone, potentially all D.C. licenses would be out of compliance and it would create a host of problems for D.C. residents.

The Council will take up the revised bill tomorrow.

NPR

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