Advocates Say They Want More Protections for Immigrants With Driver Privilege Cards

Apr 17, 2020

Next week, lawmakers will be considering an amendment to a bill allowing driver’s privilege cards for undocumented immigrants.

Governor Ralph Northam is making a few tweaks to a bill lawmakers approved last month allowing driver privilege cards for undocumented drivers. One changes some language on the back of the card. 

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy worries the original language would have drawn attention to immigration status. 

“Immigrants felt like that language sort of was like a scarlet letter that would identify them quickly," Bobo says. "So the governor, to his credit, really changed that language so that it will look like other drivers’ privilege cards.”

Credit NPR

Advocates are still worried, though, that the cards might be used by federal immigration officials to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

Tram Nguyen at New Virginia Majority says privacy issues remain a concern.  

“In a number of states where these types of credentials are issued to the undocumented community, ICE has been able to tap in to the DMV database and use information to essentially track down folks," says Nguyen. "And so we do think that down the road we need to work harder on privacy protections.”

Advocates for immigrants say they’ll be back at the General Assembly next year to figure out a way to make sure federal immigration officials don’t have access to the database of undocumented drivers in Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.