Illegal immigrants living in Ohio might be able to get a driver’s license soon, as a bill was proposed Monday allowing children brought to the state illegally by their parents to apply for a license.
Currently, there are 1,500 illegal immigrant children living in Ohio.
Ohio is not the first state to propose this type of bill, as 34 states in total now allow children of illegal aliens to become eligible for driver’s licenses.
An Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles representative recently said that the agency is discussing the issue and reviewing its policies.
“If we are not able to drive, what are we supposed to do? Rely on transportation? What about the people who live in counties that don’t have public transportation?” Jose Mendez, an immigrant and resident of Ohio for 17 years, said. “I do have state ID, it’s valid. It’s really, really ironic that I can’t get my temporary driver’s license.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by the Obama administration, allows valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought to the country as children. It also allows two years of “legal” status for younger people who can obtain work permits and social security numbers.
After the program was created, states have struggled to decide how to address the issue of driver’s licenses for those given legal presence.
“These children are 7,8,9,10 years old, who had no way of making a decision for themselves,” State Senator Charleta Tavares said. “I do believe it will pass this session. I don’t think we want to be the laughing stock. I don’t think we want to be the last one in.”
Peggy Lehner, Republican state senator, also sponsored the bill.
Mendez believes the proposal is fair.
“Right now, I have a car that’s collecting dust because I can’t drive it,” he said. “We should be able to contribute to the community. This is a great state, I just don’t understand.”