Last year, President Barack Obama instituted a program granting certain groups of undocumented immigrants lawful presence in the United States as well as work permits. Called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the order prevents deportation proceedings for immigrants who were brought here as children, graduated from high school and attend college or serve in the military.
In accordance with a state law allowing licenses for those with federal work papers, certain Division of Motor Vehicles offices began issuing driver’s licenses to those who were accepted into DACA. Issuance of licenses and permits were soon halted as leadership asked for guidance from Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Even though Cooper released a letter mandating the DMV provide licenses for applicants for the duration of their legal presence in the country, the Department of Transportation has still refused to grant such licenses at the behest of Gov. Pat McCrory-appointed Secretary Tony Tata, opting instead to study Cooper’s opinion. Furthermore, DOT has recalled 13 licenses already “unintentionally issued” to DACA applicants.
The whole fracas has resulted in a lot of buzz around the Internet, demonstrating the core of the entire immigration issue: lack of an updated, functional immigration system and culturally accepted racism toward Latinos, both documented and undocumented immigrants and natural-born citizens.
When News 14 Carolina posted a poll question on Facebook asking for viewer opinion on the issue, such responses as “Hell no! That’s only so they can vote democratic!” and “Everybody with a Spanish last name will say yes” were posted. Latinos of all varieties are objects of stereotypes and bias on a quotidian basis, often assumed to be Mexican or receiving hate like, “If you don’t like it, go back to where you came from.”
Though, of course, the culprit behind ignorance such as this is often heated political rhetoric as a result of the nation’s flawed immigration laws. The President promised that he would tackle the issue right after being elected. Several Congresses have come and gone after campaign talk of comprehensive reform with nothing being done. The current code is broken and antiquated – should a reasonable alternative be adopted, a good deal of uncertainty surrounding immigrants, their rights and legal status would be alleviated.
The answer to this situation is obvious. The DMV needs to begin allowing everyone in DACA driver’s licenses to stay in line with federal law and the guidance of the state’s top legal official. The government must act on passing comprehensive immigration reform. If this issue continues to be ignored, it will only grow and become a source of more contention and civil unrest.