Iowa Refuses To Issue Driver’s Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants Who Benefit From Deferred Action

The Iowa transportation department announced late last month that it will not issue driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants who benefit from deferred action, which allows them to legally remain in the U.S. temporarily. About 5,000 undocumented immigrants are eligible for deferred action in Iowa, and at least one person, Omar Del Jesus Mex Valle, had received his license after being granted deferred action in October.

Valle told the Des Moines Register that he received his license within a week after finding out he had been granted deferred action. “I hope they don’t take it from me. I need it to go to my job, and to do stuff for my family,” he said.

Paul Trombino, Iowa transportation director, said department officials will inform anyone with deferred action status who received a license that their license is no longer valid.

Iowa is one of six states to prevent deferred action beneficiaries from receiving driver’s licenses. Seventeen states, including California and Illinois, have said that undocumented immigrants with temporary legal status from the program can apply for driver’s licenses, and three states — Washington, New Mexico and Utah — do not require proof of citizenship to receive a driver’s license.

So far, the ACLU has filed lawsuits against Arizona and Michigan from blocking young undocumented immigrants who have been granted temporary legal status from being issued driver’s licenses. Randall Wilson, Iowa ACLU’s legal director, said he was surprised by the state’s decision. “These people have been granted status to stay in the United States for a period of time, and whether you want to call it illegal, legal or indeterminate, it doesn’t matter,” Wilson told the Des Moines Register. “They are here, so this issue needs to be addressed, either legislatively or in the courts.”