Activists of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) await a conference committee to reconvene in order to ensure that anti-immigrant language does not make it into the Real ID bill.
All eyes are on this legislation as it could result in a long-awaited goal for the immigrant community to regain access to driver’s licenses. The right to apply for driver’s licenses was forfeited under the Pawlenty Administration, when an administrative rule change made it a requirement for an applicant to prove their “lawful status” under federal immigration law in order to establish the residency requirement for a Minnesota driver’s license.
Both the House and Senate proposals provide for a two-tier driver’s licensing system that includes a version that meets all requirements under Real ID and may be used for federal purposes, as well as an alternative or “noncompliant” license that may not be used for federal purposes. As the legislation is coming down to the wire, the House and Senate must reach a compromise on several core differences between their respective proposals. The most controversial is a provision of the House bill that specifically requires applicants for both tiers of licenses to prove their “lawful status” under immigration law. The Senate’s proposal is silent on the lawful status requirement, thus allowing the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to make the call in line with the agency’s mission to promote safety on the roadways.
The following may be attributed to MIRAC with respect to the Real ID proposal from the House:
We strongly believe that the lawful status provision of the House bill is rooted in an anti-immigrant agenda that seeks to make life difficult for undocumented immigrants in order to coerce their self-deportation. Beyond being wholly misguided, this ideology promotes racism in our communities and sets the stage for widespread racial profiling of Latinos by police officers. Just last year, a cop was fired in Chaska for targeting Latino drivers outside a mobile home park where many undocumented immigrants are known to live. This is just one example of accountability for racist policing that the Latino community endures on a daily basis around the state. We simply cannot afford for our elected officials to perpetuate policies that are so deleterious to the welfare and security of our community.