City Desk

Proposed Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Would Look Different From Normal License

The crowd at Mayor Vince Gray's packed press conference this afternoon was in a good mood. By this reporter's count, the mayor dispensed five high-fives, two hugs, and two hugs with high-fives while announcing legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for District driver's licenses. But when it came to the issue of what the licenses will look like, not every was feeling cheery.

If the bill passes—Gray wants to sign it by the D.C. Council's July recess—the driver's license would be stamped with a notice indiciating the card cannot used for federal ID purposes. The stamp, an effort to avoid violating the federal REAL ID Act, would distinguish the licenses of undocumented immigrants from those of other U.S. residents. It would also prevent holders from using the ID for certain purposes, like entering federal buildings or boarding a plane.

"Otherwise, it will look like any other driver's license," says Gray. The mayor hopes that the stamp will satisfying "rumbling" he's heard from Congress about the bill.

It certainly won't satisfy some immigration activists, one of whom called for Gray to follow his "One City" slogan by also legislating "one license." Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham have written their own legislation that would create an unstamped license indistinguishable from a legal resident's.

Graham says he's been happy to have the mayor's support for the licenses, but worries about the consequences of separate licenses for different residency statuses.

"He went as far as he can," Graham says. "We're going to go as far as we can."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Question

    I have a question about this. Citizens cannot get their liscene renewed and often get them suspended for not paying taxes, child support, insurance and numerous other issues NOT related to how safe they operated a moving vehicle on our road ways.

    How are undocumented citizens to be held accountable if they get into an accident and are at fault? Are the insurance companies willing to insure these undocumented residents? If not, they will be forced to get someone to lie by purchasing a car in ANOTHER name and insuring it in ANOTHER name and NOT listing this undocumented citizen as a main driver of the car. Isnt that considered insurance fraud? How will this be worked out? If THAT issue hasnt been resolved why not issue a non-drivers id instead.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Question: The morons running DC don't think logically to begin with. Rewarding people who ignore our laws in the first place is idiotic.
    But that means nothing to "One City" Gray, who has to be the crookedest mayor we've ever had to say with a straight face that he didn't know about a $600k election effort run illegally on his behalf.

  • DT

    I love this!!! Hurray for Mayor Vincent Gray!!!

  • Wilhelm Ogle

    Tell me, how does stamping an ID with an identifing mark that precludes entry to federal buildings, airplanes, and performing certain professions restricted to citizens any different from the stamps used by my Nazi relatives to identify and restrict certain populations?
    Each year I find it harder and harder to believe the Nazi's lost the war, when their ideas and methods live on with such support.

  • Aesop

    @ Question,

    Great questions! I willing to bet neither the council nor the mayor thought about the questions you raised.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Well said, Typical DC BS. It seems citizenship is worthless and illegal aliens get better treatment from Democratic politicians. It's called pandering to get the Hispanic vote.

  • ads

    Hi @Question, let me try to answer some of that for you.
    In regard to taxes, millions of undocumented immigrants pay taxes. Through the IRS, they apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) that has 9 digits like a SS#, through which they pay taxes. The difference is, for someone with a SS#, when you have a disability or retire, you can then access medicare and social security payments. Persons with ITIN numbers can pay into the system but cannot make any withdrawals. The IRS is happy to receive these funds because it's essentially free money, and immigrants are eager to make payments in the hope that when an eventual immigration reform is passed they can demonstrate that they were happy to comply with civic duties like paying taxes. -

  • ads

    and on your 2nd question, @Question, undocumented immigrants can and do purchase car insurance (and health insurance, and business insurance, and home insurance, etc.) We live in a capitalist society, where (in most cases) if you pay for the service, you can receive it. The undocumented cannot access government funded services or subsidies, but they can certainly pay Geico or Progressive (or Cigna or Aetna as the case may be) and pay for insurance. One of the benefits of allowing immigrants to access drivers' licenses is exactly that, it encourages them to purchase insurance as they can now register their cars and plates in their own name.

  • I’m Legal

    Basic rule of civil discourse: Whoever shouts "Nazi!" first loses. Several states currently provide driver licenses to illegal aliens (in Utah they call it a Driver Privilege Card), and they carry the "Not for Federal Identification" designation because they were issued to people who could not prove that their identity and status complies with the Federal Real ID act, as noted above. There might be sound practical reasons to issue licenses to people who have no right to be here in the first place, but it would be obscene to hand them a tool that they could use to circumvent other laws.


    Political correctness referring to illegal aliens as undocumented.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Illegal aliens doesn't deserve Driver's License.

  • I’m Legal

    "... Political correctness referring to illegal aliens as undocumented...."

    One organization says "Calling an illegal alien an 'undocumented immigrant' is like calling a burglar an 'uninvited house guest'."

    There is a distinction to be made regarding illegal aliens -- the only correct term under federal law -- between "documented" and "undocumented." A "documented" illegal alien is someone who came to the U.S. with a valid passport and visa as a tourist, student, short-term worker etc., and stayed after the visa expired. The authorities at least know who that person is and they admitted him properly. An "undocumented" alien is someone who sneaked across the border, possibly with no ID at all, possibly with stolen or fake ID, who should never have been in the U.S. for one single minute. And those people -- whose names, histories, associations and intentions are completely unknown -- are the ones who should cause us the most worry.