The Washington, D.C., city council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would allow as many as 15,000 illegal aliens currently living in the nation’s capital to obtain a driver's license. (See DC license bill.pdf) The council’s Transportation Committee initially voted to give illegal aliens licenses that would be identical to the licenses that the city issues to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants. The committee said it intended to do so on the grounds that “marked” licenses would “unintentionally reveal the immigration status of all District residents.”RELATED: California allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses
However, the federal REAL ID Act of 2005 requires states to obtain “evidence of lawful status” before issuing driver's licenses that can be used as identification when boarding commercial airplanes or entering federal buildings.”
According to the 911 Commission Report, preventing foreigners from obtaining state-issued identification that allows them to open bank accounts and rent vehicles is a critical part of national security.
However, D.C. Council members considered it more important to provide driver's licenses to illegal aliens than assist with federal counterterrorism efforts. “If the federal government wishes to imbed immigration status into acceptable identification for federal purposes, it should create a national federal identification card, instead of co-opting the identification issued by state agencies,” the Transportation Committee report stated. (See Transportation Committee Report.pdf)
“The Committee believes the potential harm to the District’s undocumented residents outweighs the requirement that the District comply with REAL ID--a requirement that has never been enforced in the eight year history of the law,” the report added.
However, the council later backed away from a direct confrontation with federal law by reluctantly agreeing to the specially marked license for illegal aliens that was initially proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray.
“A driver license, permit or identification card issued under this section shall clearly state on its face and in its machine-readable zone that it is not acceptable by federal agencies for official purposes,” the current bill reads.