Last week, Ohio officials confirmed that young immigrants who came to the United States as children—or “DREAMers”—will be eligible for driver’s licenses. The decision impacts an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 young people who stand to benefit from the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Ohio joins the overwhelming chorus of states that have gotten with the DACA program. Generally, states limit driver’s licenses to immigrants who can show they are “authorized" or “legally present” in the United States. Consistent with guidance from the federal government, the overwhelming majority of states like Ohio have rightly acknowledged that immigrants granted DACA are legally authorized to be in the country, and thus eligible to drive.
Yet two outliers remain. Unlike the rest of the country, which has come to recognize that Americans should be welcoming, and not marginalizing, our talented immigrant youth, two states—Arizona and Nebraska—have rejected the DACA program and banned DREAMers from the roads. These backwards and mean-spirited policies hurt all state residents, who all have an interest in making sure that all young drivers have passed their driving tests and are able to work, go to school, and become productive members of society. As the polls show, Americans want solutions to our broken immigration system—not discriminatory and backwards-looking policies that hurt immigrants without benefitting our communities.
No state should want to be the last one standing on this issue. As the country moves forward, we all need to get with the DACA program and stand with DREAMers are they usher in a future where all persons, be they citizen or immigrant, are treated equally.