No Iowa driver's licenses for unauthorized immigrants granted deferred action

Dec 27, 2012

The Iowa Department of Transportation says it will not issue driver's licenses or state identification cards to undocumented immigrants who have been granted deferred action by the Obama administration because they came to the United States as kids.

In Iowa almost 5,000 young immigrants—mostly of Mexican descent—have been granted temporary deferred action by the Obama administration. This means they can stay in the country, but after this ruling from the DOT, they can’t drive or receive a state ID in Iowa.

DOT director Paul Trombino says the federal policy that grants temporary deferment for young undocumented immigrants doesn’t really change the law , "they are still not lawfully authorized to be in the United States, they are just not taking any action."

Trombino says it also doesn’t change Iowa Code. But the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Ben Stone, says that the DOT is reading the code wrong, "we do not agree with the DOT’s interpretation of Iowa Code. It’s a horrible injustice to people who came to this country and have been told by the US government they are not in danger of being deported, if they are denied the ability to drive a car."

Stone says the ACLU will ask the DOT to reconsider their decision. So far undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deferred action qualify for driver’s licenses in 17 states, including neighboring Illinois and Wisconsin.