Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf requested a review of state DMV laws on immigration enforcement that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driving licenses and how this affects DHS enforcement efforts. According to The Associated Press, on Tuesday, December 30, 2019, Wolf sent a memo to agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration regarding a new New York law that allows undocumented immigrants in NY to qualify for driver’s license, formerly known as The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act. The New York law went into effect on December 16, 2019.
Wolf’s memo asks that each agency survey what DMV information is already available, how it is used in day-to-day operations, and what the security consequences are without the data. Officials in states that allow someone to get a driver’s license without a social security number say the laws lower the number of uninsured people, improve traffic safety and provide better opportunities for work.
Illinois is one of 13 states, including New York, that currently allows someone to get a driver’s license without a social security number. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using facial recognition to scan driver’s license photos in some states. There are no federal policies or guidance that ICE must follow in accessing or reviewing state driving records. Illinois and other states have turned down ICE requests to review driver’s license data.
In Illinois, a Temporary Visitors Driver’s License program allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Applicants must have an Illinois address, prove 12 months of residency in the state, and have a valid passport or consular card to be eligible.
United States immigration laws can be extraordinarily complicated. The attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 855-554-6369.