DREAMers Sue For Right To Drivers’ Licenses In Nebraska

(Credit: AP)

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Nebraska Gov. David Heineman (R) challenging his decision to deny drivers’ licenses to immigrants who are authorized to lawfully remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The lawsuit charged that the Department of Motor Vehicles followed Heineman’s orders to deny drivers’ licenses to 285 immigrants “because of their DACA status” between October 2012 and February 2013.

The ACLU believes that the policy is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection, but Heineman justified that undocumented immigrants “shouldn’t be here if they’re not here legally.” This line is similar to that of other Republican governors, like Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) who used the argument that deferred action program is “without legal basis” in order to veto a bill that would grant drivers’ licenses to the undocumented.

Whether they support it or not, however, federal laws dictate that DACA beneficiaries are lawfully present and thereby authorized to work in the US. Issuing work permits is on par with the understanding that DACA provides equal access to apply for drivers’ licenses. Prohibiting such individuals from legally receiving a drivers’ license could force such immigrants to drive without one.

Public safety studies have shown that issuing licenses and making individuals buy auto insurance actually promote safety and keep auto insurance premiums low for everyone. New Mexico stands as a national symbol of how the roads became safer when drivers’ licenses were issued to everyone since there was a significant decrease in the rate of uninsured vehicles from 33 percent to 9.1 percent.

This is not the first time that the local ACLU chapter filed a lawsuit at the behest of undocumented immigrants against the state of Nebraska. In 2010, residents of the small town of Fremont banished undocumented immigrants from jobs and rental homes because they were found to be “changing the character of their quiet city.”

The ACLU also filed lawsuits against Arizona and Michigan, for blocking drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients.