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California at Odds with Feds over Undocumented Immigrant License Design

drivers.jpgIn an effort to better incorporate those who live in the United States but do not have a proper documentation, several states, including California, have voted to offer the immigrants state issued IDs. The state of California recently unveiled proposed design elements which are to be incorporated into driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. However, some elements of the licenses’ design have come under scrutiny by federal authorities, throwing the entire project into doubt.

According to a letter written to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that the proposed licenses must be changed to include verbiage on the face which indicates that the licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes, and must be distinguished from residents’ licenses through a unique design or color. These changes must be made so that the licenses may comply with the REAL ID Act, which was passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The federal government is concerned that, without the changes, security personnel at federal buildings, and locations which rely on federal protection, may not be able to distinguish the difference between resident IDs and those which are issued to illegal immigrants. Despite the discrepancy, California DMV spokesman Armando Botello declined to indicate whether or not the state would change the IDs to comply with federal standards.

Those advocating for the issuance of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants have publicly stated that they wish for the identification to resemble resident IDs as closely as possible. The current design of the California ID is very similar to that which the state proposes to issue to undocumented immigrants, with the main notable differences being some lettering changes on the front, and verbiage on the back which indicates that the license cannot be used for federal identification purposes.

As of now the state of California is set to begin issuing the new licenses in January 2015. But, without the changes required by the federal government, it is unclear what the future of the licenses will be. This situation is yet another in a long history of states attempting to do the job that really belongs to the federal government: normalizing the immigration status is of millions of undocumented immigrants. In the meantime, the country’s immigration situation continues to be extremely complex and difficult to navigate. If you, or anyone you know, need immigration assistance in Austin, called the attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm at 512-215-5225.