JANUARY 13, 2010
Utah has proudly become the nation’s first state to offer a special class of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants who will be ineligible to obtain the cards when new federal security standards kick in.
Another illegal alien sanctuary state (Wisconsin) considered offering the same benefit but the measure, inserted into budget legislation, was killed at the last minute over the summer. Until this month Utah was one of four states—including Hawaii, New Mexico and Washington—that allowed illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses simply by not requiring proof of legal residency. Maryland ended the practice just last spring by denying licenses to motorists who can’t prove they’re in the country legally.
To protect illegal immigrant drivers when a national identification law (Real ID Act) takes effect, Utah actually created a two-tier system that assures undocumented aliens will get a special license valid only in the state. Motorists who are legal residents or citizens will receive a “regular” driver’s license and illegal aliens will get a driving privilege card, which can’t be used as identification at places such as airports.
Never the less, the cards will be recognized statewide as an official identification that brings with it driving privileges. The state’s Department of Public Safety issued an urgent bulletin warning Utah residents that, for the first time, evidence of identity, legal/lawful presence and a valid Social Security number will be required to obtain a regular driver’s license in order to meet the new federal standards. Imagine that.
The director of Utah’s Driver License Division complained that the big change has caused a lot of confusion and will require the agency to “check all kinds of identification.” Latino rights advocates thanked Utah lawmakers for making the Beehive State the only to officially allow undocumented immigrants to drive and say they’ve been assured that no information will be shared with federal immigration authorities.
Utah has long protected illegal immigrants and provided them with endless public benefits, including discounted tuition at public colleges and universities. Two of the state’s largest cities—Salt Lake City and Provo—have official sanctuary policies that forbid public employees or law enforcement officers from inquiring about a resident’s immigration status.
The policy inevitably led to the recent murder of a Utah sheriff’s deputy who was gunned down by an illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal record and multiple deportation orders. The Mexican illegal had several felony convictions and had been deported three times yet remained in the U.S. undetected because he lived in a sanctuary state. He shot the officer, a mother of two, during a traffic stop in west central Utah last week.
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