State makes right signal on driver's licenses

February 15, 2013 

Perhaps it surprised some who have been critical of the ideologically-driven administration of Gov. Pat McCrory and the leaders of the General Assembly, but when credit’s due, it’s due. And Tony Tata, new state secretary of the Department of Transportation, made a sound decision in ordering his Division of Motor Vehicles to start issuing special driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who qualify for a special federal government program called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Under that program from President Obama, those who entered the United States illegally as youngsters, when the decision to cross the border would not have been theirs, will be given two-year work permits in the country if they qualify in several ways, be it as military veterans or students. During that time, in North Carolina and in some other states, they’ll get driver’s licenses for the duration of their permits. As Tata noted, a driver’s license is a “key to many doors” in society, meaning it serves not just as legal identification but is necessary for many jobs, particularly for students working part time, among others.

Attorney General Roy Cooper was asked to render an opinion on the matter, and he stood in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to those who would show proper credentials and, of course, pass the tests. Still, there was some concern that the issue of illegal immigration is so controversial that there might be those who would oppose an order from the president and a valid opinion from the state attorney general. Indeed, there are some states where politics seems to have trumped law and the licenses are still denied.

This is a positive development, and not just in helping these younger immigrants, innocent bystanders when they crossed the borders illegally, most with their parents. It will make North Carolina’s roads safer. Having a license means the driver has demonstrated a level of proficiency in driving and knowledge of the state’s rules of the road. That’s better for everyone.

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