East Bay Reps Sign On to Reverse Decision on Licenses For Immigrants

CONGRESS | IMMIGRATION | Last week, the federal government denied a design change for California driver’s licenses to be offered sometime in 2015 to undocumented residents in the state. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rejected the design citing a preference to have the phrase, “Not For Official Federal Purposes” on the front of the identification card and not the back.

On Friday, 19 U.S. representatives from California, including the East Bay’s Rep. Barbara Lee, Mike Honda and Eric Swalwell added their names to a letter urging the DHS to reconsider the proposal. Advocates for issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants argue it will ensure safety on the roads.

In addition, they argue too much differentiation between driver’s licenses issued to California residents and undocumented immigrants could unwittingly set them up for discrimination.

In its rejection letter, DHS feared too many changes to the design of California driver’s licenses would require additional and costly training for its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees around the country.

“It should not be difficult to train federal officials to recognize the distinctive marks on California licenses,” wrote San Diego Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), who authored the response. “Does DHS really have so little faith in the ability of TSA employees to distinguish a license with the statement ‘not for official federal purposes’ from one without?”