Driver's Licenses Make It Easy for Law Enforcement to Identify Illegal Aliens

The Trump administration's aggressive enforcement of immigration laws is causing illegal aliens and their political backers to have second thoughts about some of their past victories.

Illegal aliens and their supporters now realize that well over a million illegal aliens are carrying driver's licences issued by 12 states and the District of Columbia; see below for a breakdown of the rules in each of these jurisdictions. As required by the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, these licenses clearly identify the holder as being unlawfully in the United States. In addition, these states and the District of Columbia now have large databases with the personal identifying information, addresses, and phone numbers of large numbers of illegal aliens.

While politicians have promised illegal aliens that their information will remain confidential, they have also proven to be notably ineffective in protecting the private information that governmental entities are responsible for. Hundreds of millions of government records have been hacked and leaked, but even worse from the illegal aliens' perspective, promises of confidentiality generally have an escape clause when it comes to law enforcement purposes.

Thus, the most illegal-alien-friendly states have made it easy for immigration officials to identify illegal aliens and, according to the Oregonian newspaper, President Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration is of special concern to the 850,000 illegal aliens holding California driver's licenses. In fact, according to the Oregonian, "Many of them worry that the cards will be used to identify them as being here illegally and lead to deportation. That has prompted some to avoid getting the licenses, despite assurances from the Department of Motor Vehicles that it will not share information with immigration officials."

Illinois, another illegal-alien-friendly state, has a database with the names and addresses of 235,000 illegal aliens who have obtained the Illinois temporary visitor driver's licenses, known as TVDLs, according to the Chicago Sun Times, which asks "Could Trump seek undocumented immigrants' driver's licenses here?"

According to that article, when ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro was asked about the database, she responded that ICE doesn't generally use state motor-vehicle data to "identify immigration enforcement targets". But like other law-enforcement agencies, ICE might use such data "in support of ongoing criminal investigations — including identity theft investigations — or to aid in locating individuals who pose a national security risk or public safety threat, to include immigration violators such as fugitives."

All of these driver's licenses have one thing in common; they clearly identify the bearer as being unable to prove lawful presence in the United States. Thus, any immigration or other law enforcement officer coming into contact with an individual using one of these documents immediately knows that the person they are dealing with has voluntarily self-identified as being unlawfully in the United States or is otherwise ineligible to obtain a regular drivers' license.

Illegal aliens and their supporters apparently failed to recognize that giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens was a double-edged sword. Therefore, illegal aliens in each of the states listed below must now question the advisability of their actions and their political allies must fight to protect them even though they are the ones that enticed the illegal aliens to come out of the shadows and to self identify as being illegally in the United States.

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California law requires that driver's licenses issued to individuals who cannot prove lawful presence include a recognizable feature on the front of the card, such as the letters "DP" (for Driving Privilege). In addition, the license bears the following notice: "This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits." The California statute also explicitly states that, "Nothing in this section shall be used to consider an individual's citizenship or immigration status as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest, or detention."

Colorado's statute authorizes individuals unlawfully in the United States to qualify for driver's licenses or identification cards. Documents issued to illegal aliens must include the phrase "Not valid for federal identification, voting, or public benefits" clearly displayed on the face and incorporated into the machine readable zone. The statute specifically states that peace officers are not authorized to arrest an individual for merely possessing one of these documents and that confidentiality of information provided by illegal aliens is required.

Connecticut's statute states that driver's licenses shall not be denied to individuals unable to present evidence of lawful presence in the United States. "The commissioner shall place a restriction on each motor vehicle operator's license issued pursuant to this section, indicating that such motor vehicle operator's license is "for driving purposes only." Only individuals who cannot establish legal presence in the United States or who are illegal residents who may not have a Social Security number and are at least 16 years-old are eligible for the "Drive Only License". A checklist is provided to help illegal aliens through the licensing process.

Delaware issues "driving privilege cards" with the notation "Driving Privilege Only" and "Not Valid for Identification" on the face of the card. The statute ensures that "all personal identifiable information collected during the application process shall be kept confidential."

The District of Columbia issues a limited-purpose driver's license that states the following on the face of the card and in its machine readable zone in a font size no larger than the smallest font size otherwise appearing on the card: "Not valid for official federal purposes." . The D.C. statute also says that a limited purpose driver's license shall not be used to consider an individual's citizenship or immigration status, or as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest, or detention.

Hawaii issues limited-purpose driving licenses to illegal aliens. The license clearly indicates that it is "Not acceptable for official purposes" on its face and in the machine-readable zone. The rear of the card also states that, "This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits" and it may be of a unique design or color that clearly distinguishes it from the state's Real ID-compliant driver's licenses. In addition, Hawaii's law states that the limited-purpose license shall not be used to consider a person's citizenship or immigration status as a basis for criminal investigation, arrest, or detention, and that information collected pursuant to the application and issuance of the license is confidential and shall not be disclosed except as required by law.

Illinois issues temporary visitor's driver's licenses to individuals unable to prove lawful presence in the United States; a copy of the bill establishing the license can be found here and the state code can be found here. The temporary visitor's driver's license carries a notation in capital letters stating that it may not be accepted for proof of identity.

Maryland issues driver's licenses to illegal aliens. The license must have a design or color to distinguish it from other driver's licenses and identification cards, may not be used for federal identification purposes, and may not be used to purchase a firearm.

New Mexico issues driving authorization cards to illegal aliens. These cards are issued to applicants who are otherwise eligible for a driver's license, but who do not provide proof of lawful status and who affirmatively acknowledge that they understand that a driving authorization card is not valid for federal purposes. The card clearly indicates that it is not valid for federal identification purposes.

Nevada issues driving privilege cards to illegal aliens. The cards include the phrase "Not for Federal ID Purposes" on their face, using the same font as the other information contained on the face of the card and printed in type that is not larger than the smallest type used for the other information on the face of the card. In addition, by statute, "The Director shall not release any information relating to legal presence or any other information relating to or describing immigration status, nationality or citizenship from a file or record relating to a request for or the issuance of a license, identification card or title or registration of a vehicle to any person or to any federal, state or local governmental entity for any purpose relating to the enforcement of immigration laws."

Utah issues a driving privilege card to illegal aliens. According to Utah Code: "The division shall only issue a driving privilege card to a person whose privilege was obtained without providing evidence of lawful presence in the United States as required under Subsection 53-3-205(8). The division shall distinguish a driving privilege card from a license certificate by: use of a format, color, font, or other means; and clearly displaying on the front of the driving privilege card a phrase substantially similar to 'FOR DRIVING PRIVILEGES ONLY -- NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION.'"

Vermont issues a citizen of a foreign country unable to establish legal presence in the United States an operator's privilege card, a junior operator's privilege card, or a learner's privilege card. A privilege card shall, on its face, bear the phrase "privilege card" and text indicating that it is not valid for federal identification or official purposes.

Washington state issues driver's licenses to illegal aliens. The statute doesn't directly say that licenses are issued to illegal aliens, but it doesn't require illegal aliens to prove lawful immigration status in the United States. Illegal aliens do have to prove their identities and that they are residents of Washington State. Illegal aliens can use a foreign passport, a consular ID card, a birth certificate, a school yearbook with the applicant's recognizable photo and various other "B-List Documents".