Why Migrants Can’t Buy Drivers Licenses
Your driver’s license should be the most precious item in your wallet. It symbolizes your legal authority to drive on public roads and provides proof of insurance for the vehicle you operate. Furthermore, in the US it’s mandatory that passengers present their driver’s license when flying commercial airline flights; most airlines require you to show proof with your boarding pass before being permitted onboard.
Why is obtaining a license so difficult for migrants? Simply stated, in order to meet minimum age, driving and testing requirements they must first qualify as eligible based on meeting minimum age, driving and testing requirements. While other countries allow drivers to buy their driver’s license outright, in the United States one must earn it by passing an exam administered by a state-approved test administrator.
Scholars and policymakers increasingly recognize the economic and social contributions made by immigrant populations to their host communities, yet policies which limit immigrants’ ability to drive can restrict their potential participation in local economies and societies. Restrictive driver’s license laws tend to exclude working adult migrants from managing daily transportation logistics with car use – something most adults manage without restricting immigration rights.
To address this problem, some states are beginning to offer driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status; other states are considering similar measures. New York residents may apply for standard licenses while enhanced and REAL IDs require more documents that could prove challenging for non citizens. Furthermore, confidentiality provisions can provide assurances to residents that their personal data won’t be shared with ICE or any other government agency.