Advocates: Allow immigrants to get a Florida driver’s license

People line up outside the Department of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety in Lauderdale Lakes to get driver’s licenses. Advocates are campaigning to allow qualified Florida residents to get licenses regardless of immigration status. MIAMI HERALD FILE

People line up outside the Department of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety in Lauderdale Lakes to get driver’s licenses. Advocates are campaigning to allow qualified Florida residents to get licenses regardless of immigration status. MIAMI HERALD FILE

Representatives from the Drive Safe Sunshine State campaign are asking that the Florida legislative delegation support a bill granting driver’s licenses to qualified Florida residents regardless of their immigration status, saying it will spur economic growth and make the streets safer.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah says that alternative documents proving identity should be acceptable to get a driver’s license.

Right now, people who want a license must supply a birth certificate, a permanent residence card, a citizenship certificate as proof of identity as well as a Social Security card or a tax payer ID nunber.

Under the bill, those seeking licenses could present documents issued by foreign governments.

Representatives from the campaign said Monday at the first public hearing of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation that “driver’s licenses are a basic necessity in Florida.”

“Can you imagine working or raising a family without insurance?” said Luisana Perez, a member of the Drive Safe Sunshine State campaign.

More than 700,000 people who live in Florida can’t get driver’s licenses because of federal immigration status, she said.

Perez asked that Florida follow the 11 other states that have passed similar bills.

She said by allowing people to get licenses, every driver will be tested and get car insurance, making the roads safer. She added that police could use license plates to identify drivers and check driving records.

The state also will make extra money through car registration and driving test fees, she said.

“We’re here to ask all of you … to support this bill that will benefit so many Miamians and Floridians,” Perez said at the hearing.

If passed during the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee, the legislation would take effect July 1.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article8273007.html#storylink=cpy

About the Author

Rebecca is a social services reporter at The Frederick News-Post. She graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and political science. She served as Managing Editor, Summer Editor-In-Chief and Campus Editor at The Daily Northwestern and previously interned at The Miami Herald.