Illegal Immigrants Cannot Get Iowa License - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Illegal Immigrants Cannot Get Iowa License

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@aschuman

Some young immigrants were disappointed to hear Thursday that Iowa's Dept. of Transportation will not let them get a driver's license.

Back in June, President Obama enacted a policy that grants a "deferred action" status for illegal immigrants brought here by their parents. That means if they came to the U.S. when they were younger than 15, they can stay.

The policy doesn't, however, offer citizenship or permanent legal status.

The state DOT says Iowa Code only lets them give licenses to foreign people authorized to be in the United States.

"They have to get to school.  They have to get to work," said Joe Henry, League of United Latin American Citizens state director.  "Public transportation is not going to resolve this.  This is not the way it has been so we think this is very wrong."

"Somehow people think that these young people have done something consciously wrong and that's not true," Henry said.  "They have not done anything wrong.  They're just trying to make a life for themselves in the country that they know about that they grew up in."

LULA and Iowa's ACLU accuse Governor Branstad of selectively interpreting the law to discriminate against those he disagrees with.

The state's DOT says this is a matter of law - until the federal government changes these young people's legal status they cannot get a license. 

According to Gov. Branstad's spokesperson, Branstad will strongly consider any bill to change this part of the Iowa code if the legislature decides to make changes.

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