D.C. proposal would let illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses

WASHINGTON – Illegal immigrants will be able to take driver tests and get driver’s licenses under a plan headed for a final D.C. Council vote Tuesday, but not everyone who could benefit is happy about the proposal.

The plan would let illegal immigrants get specially marked driver’s licenses that wouldn’t be valid for federal purposes, like boarding planes.

The licenses would look different from D.C.’s standard driver’s license.

Monday night a small group of activists gathered along Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness Metro station to chant, march and pass out fliers.

They want illegal immigrants to have the ability to get the same driver’s license other D.C. drivers get.

Among them was Marybeth Onyeukwu, an illegal immigrant who moved to D.C. from Nigeria when she was just 2 years old.

“A license without a marking gives us protection; gives a certain amount of freedom to allow us to live our lives without fear. But I think a license with a marking invites fear,” she said.

“It almost invites harassment from police,” she added.

Another illegal immigrant who attended the rally, Cesar Vargas, came to the U.S from Mexico when he was 5.

He recently moved to D.C. from New York and has a New York driver’s license that includes the words “temp visitor” in red type.

“I think having a driver’s license with no kind of ‘scarlet letter’ would invite the community, especially the immigrant community that’s really grown in D.C., who’s building jobs, working in hotel rooms or creating jobs at restaurants,” he said.

Another demonstration is set for Tuesday morning at the Wilson Building.

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