Many readers will be surprised to know that Georgia issues driver’s licenses to non-citizens who, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), do not have legal immigration status. There is no difference in the driver/ID credentials issued to these lucky illegal aliens and those issued to legal immigrants (green card holders).
While it is illegal for non-citizens to vote in elections in Georgia, state law considers the driver’s licenses and ID Cards we are granting to non-citizens to be “proper ID” at our polls.
These driver’s licenses and state ID credentials are used as valid ID to enter federal buildings and at our airports to board airliners because in 21st century America, the driver’s license is our defacto national ID card.
Some of the illegal aliens who have been granted these very beneficial credentials are already under deportation orders. Many others have been granted a deferral on deportation proceedings — most of them by the Obama administration.
I will soon introduce driver’s license/ID reform legislation to change this needless security risk.
It is important to understand that states have full control and authority over how and to whom they issue driver’s licenses and official ID Cards. Illegal alien driver’s license/ID credential reform should not be put off any longer.
Federal law (REAL ID Act of 2005) says that illegal aliens who have a delay or deferral on deportation can use that temporary condition as “evidence of lawful status “and may be granted credentials that are accepted as federal ID. It is important to understand that the law does not require any state — including Georgia — to do this.
Other states, including Michigan, South Carolina, California, and recently, Massachusetts issue driver’s licenses that are not intended to be and are not REAL ID Act compliant — along with the compliant documents. There is a visible difference in the two types of cards.
While I join the large majority of Georgians who do not want any illegal aliens to receive any type of official state ID or driver’s license, it is my goal to create state law that will require DDS to change the design of both the driver’s license and ID Card we now distribute to non-citizens who the USCIS says lack legal status.
Among the changes my legislation will propose:
• Vertically orient the credentials issued to non-citizens who lack legal status according to the USCIS. We already do this for Americans who are under 21 years old.
• Make the credentials issued to these individuals a different design and color from any other credential issued by DDS.
• Clearly mark “NOT FOR FEDERAL USE” on the document.
• Clarify state law on proper ID at Georgia polls.
It is USCIS that issues American “work permits” – officially known as Employment Authorization Documents to non-citizens. Each EAD has a code that denotes a category of immigration status.
We should use this important federal information for the security of our state ID credentials.