The federal government somewhat clarified the confusing status of certain undocumented youth on Friday.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, part of the Department of Homeland Security, updated its website on Friday, which now says that for those youth who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), “your period of stay is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security” and they are “considered to be lawfully present in the United States” (although it specifies that “deferred action does not confer lawful status”).
According to the ACLU, that means it is clear that those youth are eligible to receive driver’s licenses. “The federal guidance issued today sends a clear message to the states – these young immigrants, who were brought to the country as children, are authorized to stay here,” meaning that their ability to apply is “required by law.”
Last fall, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State argued that undocumented youth should not be able to apply for licenses because, as he told Michigan Radio, “If you look at what U.S. citizenship and immigration services agency has put out, they’ve made very clear that the DACA participants do not have lawful status in the United States.”
Since last summer, when Homeland Security initially announced that some young undocumented immigrants could apply for deferred action as long as they met certain requirements — meaning that they would “then be eligible for work authorization” according to the department’s guidelines — some states would not issue them driver’s licenses, creating a problem for those who rely on automobiles to get to work.
Those state’s include Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and Iowa, according to the ACLU.
A recent study conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles found that unlicensed driver’s are three times as likely to cause fatal car crashes, prompting advocates to argue that allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for them could reduce deaths, reported the Los Angeles Times. Opponents claims it rewards those who immigrate without authorization.
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