Drivers’ License Bill Fails in House

By Dave Donaldson

House members last night defeated a bill re-asserting the state’s role in guarding against illegal immigrants by taking away their drivers’ licenses and state ID cards.

The divisive measure failed with only seventeen members voting for it.    

In presenting the measure to the full House,   Anchorage Republican Bob Lynn, who sponsored it,  told members that legal privileges are given only to those who qualify for them.   And based on that, he said that the privilege of driving only goes to people who have met the qualifications for a license,  including having a legal presence in the state.

The biggest thing this bill does,  the biggest thing it does is it makes the expiration date flexible.   It requires that your drivers’ license expire when your visa or your green card or some other legal presence document expires.  In other words, you license expires when your legal presence expires.  If someone doesn’t have a legal right to walk down the street,  why in the world would anybody have a legal right to drive down that street?   That’s just common sense.

Opposition came from two sides.   One feared that Lynn’s new requirements would take a step toward the federal Real I-D national identity card the state has avoided for several years.  The other side saw it as causing undue requirements on immigrants who are Legally in the state.    Anchorage Democrat Lindsey Holmes says it would allow drivers’ licenses and I-D cards to be used to tighten control over domestic violence or human trafficking victims.  She says those people would be unable to function in society without paperwork or identity.

We’re talking about people who are here legally.  People who are here legally may have been married to somebody,  they might have come in as part of an arranged marriage, or hopefully not, but they might have been married to a military member, or they might be in refugee status or asylum status.  And it’s very easy for someone to take your paperwork away from you and that’s one more way to control you.

She says the bill would give too much responsibility to employees of the Division of Motor Vehicles who are not trained in immigration law, and do not have access to federal immigration databases.   She says the documents themselves can be very confusing to those who are not trained in dealing with them.

I think that what we’re going to have here is a lot of people who have jumped through all the right hoops,  they have dotted their I’s they have crossed their t’s, they are in this country legally, and they’re going to be unable to get any form of drivers’ license or I-D.

The other opposition was from those who saw it as a link to the federal identification card.   It is illegal to use state resources to meet requirements for Real I-D.  However, Lynn pointed to the last section of the bill to show it doesn’t do that.   That section reads – quote – “This Act may not be construed as support for, or cooperation with, the Federal REAL ID Act.”   
The bill is available for a final reconsideration vote in today’s session.

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