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DHS to examine state laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses

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The Trump administration is taking a closer look at laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called for a department-wide review of how recent laws, enacted in states like New York, impact federal enforcement by allowing those in the country illegally to obtain valid driver’s licenses.

(Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Donna Burton)

In a memo sent Tuesday to agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, Wolf ordered a study of the state laws which authorize the licenses and restrict data shared with federal authorities, according to The Associated Press.

“Accordingly, I am instructing each operational component to conduct an assessment of the impact of these laws, so that the Department is prepared to deal with and counter these impacts as we protect the homeland,” Wolf said in his memo.

New laws recently implemented in New York and New Jersey and a dozen other states now allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses while blocking data from being accessed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other Department of Homeland Security agencies.

Research from the Fiscal Policy Institute indicates that about 265,000 immigrants here illegally will be able to get driver’s licenses within three years, and more than half of that number are those in New York City. Applicants must still obtain permits and pass road tests to get a “standard driver’s license,” and these reportedly can’t be used for any federal initiatives like enhanced driver’s licenses or Real ID.

On the first day, illegal immigrants were eligible to apply for driver’s licenses in New York, the DMV offices reportedly saw long lines forming around the block.

The Green Light Law even allowed a foreign birth certificate, a valid foreign driver’s license, a passport or even ID  from a foreign country to be used as a form of identification in applying for the licenses.

Critics of the new laws point to a potential increase in voter fraud, identity theft, and even terrorism if illegal aliens are now allowed to obtain a driver’s license.

“Laws like New York’s greenlight law have dangerous consequences that have far reaches beyond the DMV,” DHS spokeswomen Heather Swift said Tuesday. “These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents and also prevent DHS investigators from accessing important records that help take down child pornography and human trafficking rings and combat everything from terrorism to drug smuggling.”

“The Trump administration takes the mission of protecting the Homeland very seriously,” she said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden declared this week that, if elected president, he was “going to fundamentally change the immigration policy we have.”

Speaking at a campaign rally in Derry, New Hampshire, the 2020 Democratic hopeful said he would not only be “providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people,” but he would also issue them driver’s licenses.

Wolf’s memo on Tuesday directed the DHS agencies to assess how it currently uses Department of Motor Vehicles information and what the consequences will be to security without the data being made available with the new laws.

“Never before in our history have we seen politicians make such rash and dangerous decisions to end all communication and cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security law enforcement,” Swift said. “The Secretary is prepared to take every measure necessary to ensure the safety and security of the homeland and we look forward to the recommendations of our agents and officers in the field.”

Frieda Powers


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