“We’ve changed the conversation on how we deal with residents in Maryland, and that includes everyone, including immigrants,” said Sen. Victor Ramirez, a Prince George’s County Democrat who introduced the bill. “We’re going to take a practical approach and not drive people underground and not treat them like criminals.”
Maryland legislators have passed a bill which will allow residents who cannot prove United States citizenship to obtain a two-tier driver’s license.
In a bill passes Friday, and to which Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to sign, Maryland residents who can prove that they have lived in the state for more than two years and pass a driver’s license test, will be given the state certificate which allows them to operate a vehicle legally in the state. There is no requirement that the applicant possesses proof of being a citizen of the United States, and will not legally be a form of federal identification.
The law will affect an approximate 100,000 people and is approved by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. They believe the law will result in fewer accidents, and allow a large group of licensed drivers to purchase insurance.
Only four other states, Utah, Illinois, Washington and New Mexico, have laws to give driving privileges to illegal immigrants. State Republicans incorrectly make the claim that the state would become a “haven,” attracting illegal immigrants because it is the only state in the region to grant licenses.
“They’re not here to contribute, as far as I’m concerned,” Del. Herb McMillan, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said during the floor debate. “If we encourage people to come here illegally, we encourage them to take jobs from Americans.”
Maryland first created the second-class licenses in 2009, when the federal Real ID law mandated that state-issued identification cards meet several security standards, including verification that applicants were in the country legally.
The ACLU has strongly supported sensible and fair treatment of immigrants and praise the Maryland decision.
When signed, licenses could be issued in the beginning of 2014.
Columnist-The Guardian Express