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State Motor Vehicle Departments Are Offering Driving Privilege Cards

As immigration remains a contentious topic in the US, state motor vehicle departments have increasingly offered driving privilege cards for people without legal driver’s licenses in some states and the District of Columbia. Although this approach goes against federal guidelines for licensing requirements, scholars and activists worry it could put undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.

Benito Torres, a warehouse worker in Millville, New Jersey, recognizes that getting a license is vital to his daily life. Without one, it would be more challenging for him to commute to his job, run errands such as groceries shopping or purchasing alcohol after work and visit family in other cities; moreover, fulfilling his responsibilities as both father and husband through transporting his children to school or sporting events would become impossible without proper documentation.

An individual with a driver’s license could find the application process for permanent residency easier to manage, such as attending immigration court hearings or ICE check-ins more conveniently.

Some states offer residents the ability to apply for licenses online or at kiosks, while in others residents must meet with a DMV agent and present documents such as proof of identity, residency address and birth certificate – this process may take hours with long wait times as a result.