The District of Columbia started issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants in 2014, and now some are complaining because the process takes longer than they would like.
The government in Washington, D.C., began issuing drivers licenses May 2014 to illegal immigrants who have lived in the city for more than six months. The city is one of just 10 other municipalities across the country that currently employs the policy.
Prior to the law change, any illegal immigrants driving in the city were doing so illegally, and were subject to punishment for the crime.
Now, though, advocates for illegal immigrants in the city are saying the process to obtain the licenses is far too burdensome and needs to be changed, WAMU reports.
“They deserve to be treated just the same as any other taxpayer in the city of Washington that wants to get a license, nothing more, nothing less,” Abel Nunez, executive director of the Central American Resource Center, told WAMU.
The Georgetown University Center for Social Justice issued a policy briefing Wednesday to the D.C. Council detailing the faults with the drivers license policy.
Advocates said the policy is unfair because legal D.C. residents can just go to the DMV and obtain a license while illegal immigrants are sometimes forced to wait up to six months for an appointment.
Illegal immigrants need to set up appointments because, according to federal and local laws, non-English speakers have to get helped in their native languages, and most DMV employees don’t speak any language but English.
The licenses available to illegal immigrants are slightly different from normal drivers licenses. The limited purpose are marked “not valid for official federal purposes,” and cannot be used for things like board airplanes or enter federal buildings.
Earlier this year, the D.C. Council took up legislation that would also allow non-citizens vote in local elections.
The bill would allow permanent residents in the city who are not American citizens to vote in elections for mayor, city council, the attorney general and State Board of Education members, among other things.