*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****
January 12, 2016
Senator-Elect Surovell and Delegate Kory Hold Press Conference for Immigrant Drivers Licenses
More information: Nadine Slocum, Legislative Aide
Jack Gaughan, Communications Director
Richmond, VA – This morning, Senator-Elect Scott Surovell (D-36) and Delegate Kaye Kory (D-38) held a press conference on issuing drivers licenses to immigrants. The press conference was hosted in the House Briefing Room with Edgar Aranda-Yanoc of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, Margie Del Castillo of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Virginia Latina Advocacy Network, Alba Rodrigues of the New Virginia Majority, and Fr. Jack Podsiadlo of the Sacred Hart Center.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to be issued a similar version of a driver’s license.
Representatives from these advocacy groups spoke about the overwhelming impact that drivers licenses have on Latino communities. Driving is a necessity for families in everyday functions, and the current status forces them into hardships. Residents in these communities suffer from limited job prospects, complications getting to stores for food, and difficulties picking up their children from school, all due to insufficient transportation.
Issuing drivers licenses to these residents has a measurable benefit to public safety. States that adopted legislation in favor of issuing licenses have seen over 30% drops in traffic fatalities, compared to a 20% decrease nationwide during the same time period. Multiple factors impact this; drivers in these states go to safety courses, have training, pass tests, and undergo vision screening to be issued a license. There are no such practices for a person that needs transportation and drives illegally without a license.
Licensed drivers are less likely to immediately drive away from the scene of an accident. According to the Commonwealth Institute, 41% of hit and runs from 2001 to 2005 were drivers with invalid licenses or no license. A California Department of Motor Vehicles study from 2012 that examined a 23 year period showed that drivers without valid licenses were three times more likely to cause a fatal accident than their legal counterparts. The study also showed that unlicensed drivers are more dangerous than drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked.
Licenses serve as a form of identification, which many immigrants do not have. Senator-Elect Surovell has filed legislation to grant temporary visitors licenses to anyone who is not able to show evidence of legal permanent residency or conditional resident alien status, provided they have lived in Virginia for at least a year and has filed an income tax return. These licenses would give a form of identification to illegal immigrants, but would have printed on the front “NOT FOR FEDERAL USE.” These licenses can aid law enforcement identify a person stopped that officers have stopped. The legislation is attached below and has not yet been given a bill number.
Allowing licenses to be issued to immigrants can also help the economy. Unlicensed drivers usually do not have car insurance; with licenses and an easier access to insurance, risk of accidents is spread and insurance premium costs are decreased. A study from the Southern Economic Journal in 2015 revealed that states with laws preventing those who could not show legal presence from being issued a driver’s license had a rise of 2% for all car insurance premiums. Further boosts to the economy will come as licensed drivers will buy more cars and will be able to fill more jobs when not relying strictly on public transportation.
Temporary visitor's driver's licenses. Allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a temporary visitor's driver's license to an applicant who is unable to present valid documentary evidence of legal permanent residency in the United States or conditional resident alien status, if certain requirements are met.
A BILL to amend and reenact § 46.2-328.1 of the Code of Virginia, relating to temporary visitor's driver's licenses.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That § 46.2-328.1 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 46.2-328.1. Licenses, permits and special identification cards to be issued only to United States citizens, legal permanent resident aliens, or holders of valid unexpired nonimmigrant visas; exceptions; renewal, duplication, or reissuance.
A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, except as provided in subsection G of § 46.2-345, the Department shall not issue an original license, permit, or special identification card to any applicant who has not presented to the Department, with the application, valid documentary evidence that the applicant is either (i) a citizen of the United States, (ii) a legal permanent resident of the United States, or (iii) a conditional resident alien of the United States.
B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A and the provisions of §§ 46.2-330 and 46.2-345, an applicant who presents in person valid documentary evidence of (i) a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States, (ii) a pending or approved application for asylum in the United States, (iii) entry into the United States in refugee status, (iv) a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States, (v) approved deferred action status, or (vi) a pending application for adjustment of status to legal permanent residence status or conditional resident status, may be issued a temporary license, permit, or special identification card. Such temporary license, permit, or special identification card shall be valid only during the period of time of the applicant's authorized stay in the United States or if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay a period of one year. No license, permit, or special identification card shall be issued if an applicant's authorized stay in the United States is less than 30 days from the date of application. Any temporary license, permit, or special identification card issued pursuant to this subsection shall clearly indicate that it is temporary and shall state the date that it expires. Such a temporary license, permit or identification card may be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary license, permit or special identification has been extended by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service or the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.
C. Any license or special identification card for which an application has been made for renewal, duplication or reissuance shall be presumed to have been issued in accordance with the provisions of subsection A, provided that, at the time the application is made, (i) the license or special identification card has not expired or been cancelled, suspended or revoked or (ii) the license or special identification card has been canceled or suspended as a result of the applicant having been placed under medical review by the Department pursuant to § 46.2-322. The requirements of subsection A shall apply, however, to a renewal, duplication or reissuance if the Department is notified by a local, state or federal government agency that the individual seeking such renewal, duplication or reissuance is neither a citizen of the United States nor legally in the United States.
EThe Department shall cancel any license, permit, or special identification card that it has issued to an individual if it is notified by a federal government agency that the individual is neither a citizen of the United States nor legally present in the United States.
. For any applicant who presents a document pursuant to this section proving legal presence other than citizenship, the Department shall record and provide to the State Board of Elections monthly the applicant's document number, if any, issued by an agency or court of the United States government.