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Florida Governor Scott stops bill allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

By Jared Hamil |
June 5, 2013
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Tallahassee, FL - On June 4, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have allowed undocumented youth covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to have driver's licenses. House Bill 235 or the Dream Act Driver License Act would have made it so that young undocumented DACA recipients could apply for a Florida state driver’s license. The bill was passed unanimously by the Florida Senate and won in the House by a 115 to 2 vote. At the last minute, after it had already passed, Scott used his veto powers to shut down the bill.

The bill would not have allowed DACA recipients to have a permanent driver’s license. DACA itself is only a two-year temporary ‘fix’ and recipients are required to reapply and pay new fees to have the temporary two-year DACA-status. HB 235 would act in the same manner; DACA recipients would have to start the process all over again (fees included) every two years. However, this will still benefit a large portion of the undocumented.

Driver's licenses for the undocumented provide many benefits. The main reason is that it allows travel to drive to work, school, the hospital or anywhere else without the fear of being pulled over by the police. In many places the police put up stop points to target the undocumented for arrests. Being targeted by the police and ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement), the undocumented can face anything from fines and arrests to deportations. In fact, many of the deportations result from driving without a license. For those who are not deported, and are arrested, they will have a much harder time gaining legal status as well as citizenship. On top of this, a license will help the undocumented with employment. As it stands now, without a license, the undocumented are exploited at the workplace in terms of harassment, wage theft and in some cases, slavery. Having a license and documentation, even in a small form, would help to provide more opportunities for employment and limit random immigrant searches.

Governor Scott, like most of the right wing, does not want undocumented people to obtain legal status. In fact, upon entering office, Scott wanted to pass laws similar to Arizona's racist SB1070.

For now, groups around Florida have been planning press conferences and actions to demand licenses for all undocumented immigrants. In Tampa, Dream Defenders is planning a press conference and action within the next few days. Dream Defenders has been demanding that driver’s licenses be extended to all 1.5 million undocumented in the state of Florida. They have started a petition while pressuring their city council to pass a resolution in support.

Sign here: