North Carolina Bill Prevents State From Issuing Discriminatory Driver Licenses To DREAMers

Starting March 25, North Carolina will begin issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants who qualify for deferred action, otherwise known as DREAMers. But unlike the state’s standardized licenses, these are vertical, pink, and carry the words “NO LAWFUL STATUS.” In other words, the driver’s license categorizes the carrier as a second-class resident at first glance.

Last week, Democratic state lawmakers introduced legislation that mandates a standardized state license instead of the pink design. Under the bill, driver’s licenses for deferred action beneficiaries “shall not be distinguishable in any manner from other licenses.” Bill cosponsor Paul Luebke (D) suggested the expiration date could be adjusted to reflect the terms of Obama’s deferred action program.

The distinct driver’s license has earned the nickname as a “modern scarlet letter,” but it is still backed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. So far, the issue has sparked protests from North Carolina residents, immigrants, and the religious community. And it’s inspired a new Tumblr where protesters hold up mockups of the license and ask, “Does this drivers license make me look “illegal?”‘