Drivers License Legislation
Updated: Tuesday, March 5 2013, 08:48 AM EST
COLUMBUS — Thirty-four states allow children of illegal immigrant parents to get their driver’s licenses. Ohio is not one of them. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was established last year by the Obama Administration and gives immigrants who came here illegally as children two years of legal status. That status allows them to get Social Security numbers and work permits.
Right now, Ohio’s 190 license bureaus are being allowed to decide on their own if they grant the licenses to those over age 16. Legislation proposed Monday by two Ohio Senators would make the law uniform across the Buckeye State.
Jose Mendez told reporters he had all his paperwork he needed to get a license, but was turned away in Cleveland. Mendez said he wants to pay taxes and buy insurance for his car. “Even though I have proper documentation, the BMV refused to accept them, and added insult to injury when the manager yelled across the room and said I should just go back home because I didn’t belong here,” said Mendez.
Maria Sanchez,21, has lived in Ohio since she was a young girl. Her sister was born in Ohio. Sanchez holds down a job in Columbus, but said she can’t get a better one because she does not have a driver’s license. “Some children of immigrants are scared and confused about what to do. We need consistency in the law,” said Sanchez.
Senator Charleta Taveres (D-Columbus) said they need to help the youth who are falling through the cracks. “They are in limbo through no fault of their own,” said Taveres. “Their inability to get a license interrupts their education and employment opportunities.” The lawmakers said they have bi-partisan support for their bill. They estimate at least 1,500 young people are impacted with the decision. Senator Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) said it is an issue of safety on the highways. “We want drivers who are trained, tested, and insured,” said Kearney.
The Department of Public Safety said through a spokesman the Director would not do an on-camera interview, but said “ if the bill passes they will comply with the law.”
Reporter: LuAnn Stoia
Web Producer: Kellie Hanna