Reversing a decision made last September, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will soon begin issuing driver's licenses to young people who have received work permits under the federal Deferred Action program.
But local immigration advocates say the new driver's licenses violate the holders right to privacy because the identification card includes a 'No Lawful Status' and 'Deferred Action' label. North Carolina is the only state in the country to issue this type of license, according to The Latin American Coalition, an immigrant rights organization based in Charlotte.
"We are shocked and appalled at the way these licenses are being issued," read a statement issued by The Coalition and United 4 The Dream. "The format of the license design and class is completely discriminatory and untrue. The alarming pink highlight as well the vertical format- a format usually reserved for minors- can and will cause great difficulties for those who are of age and needing entry to various services and places."
"The presence of the phrase 'Deferred Action' is inconvenient because it reveals a person's former legal status and violates their right to privacy," continued the statement from The Coalition. "In the same manner, the use of the term "NO LAWFUL STATUS" on the licenses is completely unnecessary. We are afraid that the presence of these two phrases will lead to discrimination against DACA recipients as well as harassment from law-enforcement authorities."
Local Spanish-language news outlet QuePasaNoticias.com published an image of the revised driver's license design shortly after it was introduced at a news conference last Thursday. Representatives from the N.C. Department of Transportation have confirmed with The Coalition that is indeed the new DACA driver's license.
"After weeks of review, study and consultation we've found a way to make this right by developing a process that will allow qualified deferred action for childhood arrival applicants to obtain driver licenses, while protecting the rights of all United States citizens," said DOT Secretary Tony Tata in a statement.
"The driver's license is designed the way it is so that it allows young people who have DACA status to obtain a NC driver's license but it does have a look [sic] have some different language and look different so that it can protect the rights that are afforded to citizens, such as the right to vote," DOT representative Greer Beaty told WFAE.org.
DREAMers who will carry the license say the labels are a recipe for harassment in their state.
"Let's say somebody's driving, they get pulled over," DREAMer Ramon Garibaldo told WFAE. "The fact that law enforcement sees 'No Lawful Status' right there, will already give that officer almost a reason to harass the person."
The N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing licenses to those who qualify under DACA on March 25.