The issue of immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses is a critical one in the Irish community in the US. It has been a contentious issue and the debate has been an emotional one that has become entangled with the national debate about how to reform our immigration system. This has distracted from the real issues that states face in promoting public safety and protecting their communities.
Denying immigrants access to drivers licenses has made life very difficult for many hardworking immigrants who need to drive, whether it is for work, to take their kids to school or appointments, or simply to conduct daily activities. Denying immigrants licenses has made the roads less safe for everyone, increased the number of uninsured drivers on the roads and undermined effective law enforcement.
The REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 will exacerbate existing problems. The Act created national standards for the issuance of state driver’s licenses and identification cards. It continues to give cause for concern across the country as it does not address the individual needs of states. Many states oppose the federal requirements imposed by the REAL ID Act, and have passed legislation rejecting it. The act’s future still remains uncertain.
For updated information on the issue of Drivers Licenses and the REAL ID Act go to the website of the National Immigration Law Center Driver’s License Resource Guide.