VICTORY! Maryland and Oregon Extend Driving Privileges to All Immigrants

Today Maryland and Oregon are celebrating the signing of new laws expanding access to driver's licenses to all residents, including undocumented immigrants. We are part of a movement. Our hope is that our success inspires the passage of bills in more than a dozen other states considering similar measures.

In most states today, it is difficult, if not impossible, for people to go about their daily lives without the ability to drive. Simple but essential tasks such as driving kids to school or to extracurricular activities, picking up groceries, going to the doctor, and traveling to workbecome riddled with hardship. As a result, people without access to driver's licenses are faced with the difficult "choice" of either not meeting their basic needs or driving and risking arrest and other negative repercussions.

Against this backdrop, having a driver's license can provide critical protection for immigrants' civil rights. Across the country, immigrants are subjected to harassment, racial profiling, and needless arrest and detention by law enforcement officials who use driving without a license to route aspiring citizens into deportation proceedings. Many immigrants have been driven into the shadows as a result, living in fear of these consequences every time they find themselves compelled to get behind the wheel of a car. At least in Maryland and Oregon, they will now be able to get driver's licenses—and having a drivers' license means no longer having to live with that fear.

Needless to say, providing greater access to driver's licenses is also good for public safety. Applying for a license means learning the rules of the road. It means getting trained and tested, and being able to obtain insurance coverage. Licensed drivers are less likely to get into accidents and less likely to flee the scene of an accident. If only for these pragmatic reasons, expanding access to driver's licenses is a no-brainer.

More importantly, denying licenses to people who contribute so much to our culture and economy—who form such an integral part of our societies—runs counter to the fundamental principle of treating all our residents with equal dignity and respect.

By supporting and passing this bill, Marylanders and Oregonians have once again made the right choice and have sent a clear message to our elected representatives in Congress: We welcome aspiring citizens in our states. We are taking local steps to ensure that all our residents have access to basic necessities while they await the opportunity to embark on their path to citizenship. We hope and expect you to complement our efforts by passing just and humane comprehensive immigration reform now. In the meantime, we join states across the country taking practical steps to enact common-sense policies right now.

Learn more about the DREAM Act and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (4)
Read the Terms of Use

Thats sad

This is what the aclu is calling a victoty.

Anonymous

Dear ACLU: It's nice that you are trying to help people, but here's a news flash. Undocumented Immigrant = Illegal Immigrant. Comprende?
In my experience, management of DMV in Oregon does lousy job of administering licenses for legal residents with every right to drive. It participates enthusiastically in the persecution of legal residents who have not payed child support regardless of their ability to pay. Now they might be charged with administering legal driving privileges for illegals? That's absurd.
Please go screw up someone else's country. Thanks.

Anonymous

Shame on Oregon for passing such a law! With all the problems of illegal drugs being brought into the country by these illegal imigrants and the burden it puts onto oregon residents to already payout in taxes to support such individuals that are unemployed and here illegaly, it truly is a crime!
I deal with illegal imigrants on a daily basis with my work, I see what a large majority are up to! they litter, they sell drugs, they steal! They lie right to your face as they smile and call you crazy for not believing their lies! They take advantage of the system in any and every way they can! I used to think that I was without predudice, and treated everyone fairly and the same, I can't say that anymore, and I am sorry to admit that! What I see on a daily basis has changed the way I used to believe. I believe in a fair pathway to citizenship, the right way! aply legally, take the proper steps, then get rewarded by following the laws put here to protect all of us! when you give away rights like you are passing out pamplets to every passer by you miss the purpose and meaning of what those rights stood for in the first place! That is exactly what is happening right now with allowing illegal aliens to obtain state issued ID and Drivers lisences, without proper documentation or proof of legal status to be here in the first place! We are rewarding them for braking the laws that were designed to protect us all!
So I say Shame on you Oregon for passing this insain and irrisponsible new law! Shame on you Governor Kitzhaber for supporting a bill that puts
all of us at risk and promotes illegal activity!

Anonymous

Thank you. It is a victory for people who work hard but come from a country that wont give poor people visas to go find work. Especially mecican warzone earth loving, non drinking, nondrugging,decent parents.

Stay Informed