No Discriminatory Driver's Licenses
J ust when you might have hoped that the Republicans in Raleigh wouldn't be going off any more deep ends comes word of a plan to create a new badge of shame in the form of a special driver's license for noncitizens.
Those receiving the licenses would include illegal immigrants who have two-year work permits under the new federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted last year. Because that program was put into effect by President Obama, one can't help but detect a note of ideological spite here.
Rather than do the gracious thing and grant these noncitizens standard driver's licenses, North Carolina would become the only state in the entire union to require them to carry special cards whose design, wording and color seem designed to separate them from everyone else, create embarrassment, and reflect some kind of official attitude of discrimination.
'The Scarlet Letter'
One liberal commentator who compared the new cards to the yellow Star of David badges Jews were required to wear in Hitler's Germany went off the deep end himself. That's a silly and grossly exaggerated comparison. Still, there is something offensive about the idea of issuing special fuchsia-colored licenses to this particular category of drivers. (Another opponent of the plan chose to describe the new card as "the Scarlet Letter.")
The design manages to work in three terms clearly meant to have the most negative possible connotation. In addition to the phrase "Deferred Action" included in the background, the words "Limited Term" would stretch along the right side. And across the bottom, it would say, "No Lawful Status."
Even that wasn't enough to satisfy some opponents. One group of legislators, predictably, is pushing a bill that would forbid the issuing of even these flagged licenses to those involved in Obama's Deferred Action program, even though N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has issued an opinion stating that those participants have "lawful status" and are eligible for licenses.
We're not talking here about people who swam across the Rio Grande by dark of night. These licenses would go to businessmen working in this country on green cards, as well as young people studying under legitimate student visas. Bear in mind, incidentally, that North Carolina driver's licenses already have a place on the reverse side, under "Restrictions," to make a notation if the holder is a noncitizen.
The nation's immigration problem needs to be solved, to be sure. The Obama program that gave rise to this situation is a stopgap measure that grants a two-year reprieve from deportation to young people who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own. Many of them, trying hard to make a go up here in the only country they have ever known, need driver's licenses to obtain jobs and better their situations, and become productive and independent members of society.
Surely the state should be making it easier for them to do so instead of seeing how many insulting impediments it can throw their way.
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