GOP-led committee holds hearing on driver's licenses for DACA immigrants

February 14, 2013

Governor Jan Brewer still says no to Arizona driver's licenses for young immigrants who were brought to this country illegally and now qualify for a federal program. On Thursday a Republican-led legislative committee listened to supporters of a bill that would allow such a move.

The Department of Homeland Security ruled last year that young immigrants who qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process are lawfully present in the in the United States.

But the governor says DHS doesn’t have the authority to grant that status and has rejected requests to grant licenses to mostly young Latino immigrants.

One of those testifying at the hearing was Omar Romadia. He told the committee that his parents brought him into this country without documentation when was two years old. He is a student at Grand Canyon University. He works with high school students preparing them for college. He says he sees many bright students are unable to attend the training.

"Because they do not have a method of getting, a method of transportation to our program," Romadia said. "It is understandable that parents are making conscious decision to keep their son or daughter safe by not letting them drive. But it comes at the cost of not attaining the necessary resources to prepare for college."

Todd Landfried is with Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. He says the state issues driver's licenses to other immigrants in similar circumstances

"As employers we don’t understand how the same form is acceptable by the state to issue a license to one type of work authorization holder and not another," Landfried said.

State Representative Catherine Miranda is the sponsor of the bill.

"This is an opportunity that may not present itself again. This is a job creation bill because its intent is to facilitate transportation for our workforce to contribute," Miranda said.

No vote has been scheduled on the proposed legislation. Meanwhile a class action suit was filed last year against the state over Arizona’s refusal to grant licenses to immigrants who qualify for the DACA program.

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