A civil liberties organization is “terribly disappointed” in an Iowa Department of Transportation decision to cease issuing driver’s licenses to young illegal immigrants eligible to work in this country under an Obama administration deferred prosecution policy.
The department has issued at least one driver’s license and one non-operator’s ID since President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Obama changed federal policy in June to let certain illegal immigrants apply for a temporary work permit if they were brought to the country as children.
However, after reviewing the memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the deferred prosecution of illegal immigrants as it relates to Iowa law, the DOT concluded it did not have authority to issue those documents, DOT Director Paul Trombino III said in December.
Ben Stone of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa believes the DOT misinterpreted Iowa law. The ACLU and its allies will seek to reverse the decision through the courts and Iowa Legislature as well as ask DOT to reconsider.
It’s the ACLU Iowa’s contention that illegal immigrants who came to this country before they were 16 years old should be considered as lawful residents, Stone said.
“This state-federal clash, also playing out in Michigan and Arizona, is troubling,” says the editorial. “Young illegal immigrants who qualify for a permit can hold a job in Iowa but won’t be able to drive to work. That could make it more difficult to get or keep jobs and be taxpayers.
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa believes the DOT misinterpreted current Iowa law and plans a legal challenge if the DOT doesn’t reconsider. So who is correct?
“The DOT appears to be following at least the letter of the law,” the editorial continues. “Yet its decision strikes us as a narrow interpretation that penalizes young immigrants brought here illegally as children through no fault of their own who want to be responsible, productive workers. It’s also telling of the nation’s still-muddled immigration policy.
“Iowa legislative leaders have signaled little interest in resolving this issue. But instead of letting it drag out in the courts, couldn’t lawmakers issue a temporary waiver? That would seem more in line with the spirit of the work permit.”
What do you think? Should Iowa reconsider its decision to cease issuing driver’s licenses to young illegal immigrants eligible to work in this country?