Limited Drivers’ Licenses for Immigrants

By Dave Donaldson

A bill limiting immigrant’s rights to a drivers’ license was approved by the House State Affairs Committee yesterday.  But it is not as harsh as it was when introduced.

The bill by Anchorage Republican Bob Lynn originally ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles not to issue the state’s standard license beyond the date the person’s  U-S Visa would expire.   He said there are thirty other states with similar bills already on the books.

The goal of HB3 is simple.  No one should be able to get official documentation from the State of Alaska that outlasts their legal stay in the United States.

However,  Lynn did allow amendments to his bill.   He removed a restriction for people whose Visa’s with expiration dates that were unclear or indeterminate.   That could have seen people having to renew drivers’ licenses as often as every month.   The new minimum time limit will be one year.

The bill also will allow those with the shorter deadlines to renew their licenses by mail – and at no charge.

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union last week raised questions about the state’s constitutional right saying the bill could be taken as a challenge to the federal immigration laws and process.   However,  Legislative Attorney Jerry Luckhaupt   said federal court decisions have set clear standards that the bill meets.

There’s a three-part test to determine whether or not the state’s can.  And the biggest part is  “Is a state attempting regulate the admission of aliens into the country or establish an immigration process of their own.”  This bill, and the way this would work, is the state’s going to rely upon the determination that was made by Homeland Security.

The Bill passed with no objection and next goes to the Finance Committee.  It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.


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