The Salt Lake Tribune reminds us that, effective January 1st, 2010, Utah residents who want to legally operate a motor vehicle in the state must get their drivers licenses in person, and supply proof of identity and residency. Renewal by mail has been suspended. This requirement will exist for five years to ensure that all currently-licensed Utah drivers will be required to meet this mandate.
The mandate is driven by SB40. Senator Curt Bramble (R-Provo), who sponsored the bill, explained that the changes were necessary because other states were starting to reject Utah licenses for lack of proof that their bearers were in the country legally. SB40 also created a third driver category -- the limited-term license -- sunsetting the driving privileges of legal immigrants at the same time that their permits to be in the country expire. Illegal immigrants will still have access to a driving-privilege card that cannot be used as identification for state benefits or access through federal airport security checkpoints, but apparently without fear that applying for the card will expose them to apprehension and repatriation.
Tony Yapias, an advocate for illegal immigrants and director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said he understands the need for stricter ID verification "post-9/11," and he is glad the new law preserves driving-privilege cards for undocumented immigrants. He claims the cards make those immigrants legal on the roads, encouraging them to register vehicles and buy insurance. But one person posting a comment to the story cautioned that the "privilege card" is nothing more than a freebie to the local car dealerships to sell illegals cars when they buy a 30 day insurance policy.
The Utah Department of Public Safety Drivers License Division page contains the details. Applicants will be required to present proof of status, identity, Social Security information, and residency:
(1). Proof of Status and Proof of Identity are identical and interchangeable. At least two documents must be presented.
(2). Social Security Information. Either an SSN card or a document such as a W-2, 1099, or pay stub showing SSN is required. A letter showing ineligibility to participate in Social Security is also acceptable.
(3). Proof of Utah Residency. At least two documents showing applicant's name and primary Utah residence.
DMV cautions that in marginal cases, approval of documentation may not take place during the initial visit to DMV; a second visit might be required. Thus those whose licenses expire in January might want to renew as early as possible to account for this possibility.
While SB40 prevents illegal immigrants from getting the full documentation necessary to get state benefits and access airport security checkpoints, it does not result in their apprehension and repatriation. Yet all Utahns, even those who have drivers licenses, must undergo the scrutiny. Consequently, a number of Utahns are upset about this broad-brush approach and think it's primarily a strategem to avoid charges of profiling. They post their objections as comments to the Tribune story; here are a few:
mikeinogden: 12/24/2009 10:19:00 PM
So let me understand this. If a person moves here from another state and has a valid social security card, but does not have access to a copy of their birth certificate and has no passport, they will not have their driver's license renewed even if they have been a citizen of this country all their life? Yah, I can see a bunch of lawsuits coming on this one. And when the spokesman says the law is already passed and there is little that can be done about it, how about passing another law that repeals this one.
booker: 12/25/2009 5:54:00 AM
This law is crap. It makes me angry that I should have to prove I was born here. It also makes me mad that my husband who served 26 months during Viet Nam war should have to prove he is a citizen. This law just because it passed doesn't make it legal.
salty lemon: 12/25/2009 6:11:00 AM
People from other countries should not be given cards if here illegally. That is aiding and abetting lawbreaking.
It's too bad our legislature caved into the special interest groups like the Salt Lake chamber of commerce and removed E-verify from sb81. E-verify would of accomplished fair enforcement of the immigration laws. Instead of standing up and doing what's morally right, they chose to harass Utah's legal citizens until we give up, and allow open borders.
Why did we fight the war on terror to protect our borders?
ALL law enforcement officers are responsible for immigration enforcement. Blaming the Feds only is a tactic used by the pro-illegal group to kill enforcement on a grass roots level. Knowing the problem is to large for one Government agency to handle.
Without local law enforcements support, and legislature/state leaders with moral conviction, we can't fix the problem. They just don't enforce the law, and create backlogs for the Federal Government.
Tck62: 12/25/2009 9:38:00 AM
Never forget the root cause of the illegal immigration mess is the corporations who covet the cheap labor and the churches who crave the collection plate money. These two groups have bought off both sides and dictate public policy accordingly.
Illegal immigration is a huge drain on our economy from the $ billions wired overseas to the increased education budgets and everything in between.
The bottom line the status quo on illegal immigration is really nothing more than state sponsored corporate and church welfare.