Things That Matter

Trump Administration Is Looking Into Laws Allowing Undocumented Immigrants Driver’s Licenses

Last month, several Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in New York had lines of people around their buildings. It was quite a sight to see so many people standing in the cold temperatures waiting to finally get their driver’s license. For many of us, going to the DMV can be quite a drag. It’s a process we take for granted. For undocumented people, getting a driver’s license is one major step toward living out of the shadows. Not many states allow undocumented people to obtain driver’s licenses. But just last month New York became the 13th state to authorize licenses to undocumented people. Now the President of the United States is seeking to end it. 

The Trump Administration is seeking to study the security ramifications of states that authorize licenses to undocumented people.

Credit: @SpoxDHS / Twitter

Chad Wolf, the latest acting secretary of Homeland Security, sent a memo to all agencies of security including  U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, and inquired whether authorizing licenses to undocumented people affects “its enforcement efforts for both immigration and other investigations into human trafficking, drug smuggling, and counterterrorism,” NBC News reports. 

This inquiry is particularly interesting because President Donald Trump has always had issues with the separation between federal and state laws, particularly in states where undocumented people benefit from Sanctuary laws.

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As we have noted in the past, Trump has threatened state lawmakers that protect undocumented people from being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by state authorities including in California and New York, among others. 

Now that more states are granting driver’s licenses to undocumented people, Homeland Security is attempting to rewrite these laws if they see proper cause to do so. Meaning, if Homeland Security finds that undocumented people with official driver’s licenses are committing crimes such as human trafficking and drug smuggling, they do have the ability to prohibit access to driver’s licenses. 

According to NBC News, “Wolf’s directive asks that each agency survey what DMV information is already available, how it is used in day-to-day operations, and what are the security consequences without the data.”

However, Homeland Security having access to information obtained by the DMV could be problematic especially if documents provide data on how is a U.S. citizen and who is not.

Credit: @CBSEveningNews / Twitter

“The Trump administration takes the mission of protecting the Homeland very seriously,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told the network. “These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents.”

With the start of the New Year, more DMV offices have granted undocumented people access to driver’s licenses including in Colorado. 

While Colorado passed a law in 2013 that allowed undocumented people access to driver’s licenses, in 2020 at least ten more DMV offices will provide driver’s licenses to this community.

Credit: @ConorMichael28 / Twitter

“Expanding access to driver’s licenses will improve the quality of life of countless working families Colorado, will increase our economy and make our state stronger in all aspects. This is the result of the tireless work of the community in defense of immigrants in Colorado and are proud to be their allies by the Coalition I-Drive to create more opportunities for Colorado families,” FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization, said in a statement. 

Some may be wondering why it’s so important for undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses if they’re already living here without documentation. The answer is easy: for safety reasons.

Credit: @TheToddSchulte / Twitter

Without any form of identification, undocumented people have a harder time finding work because they have no way of getting there without a car. By having a license they can now have car insurance as well and this provides safer road conditions for everyone. More so, having a formal ID allows this community to come out of hiding, and gives them a freedom they didn’t have before. 

In California, statistics show that undocumented people with driver’s licenses didn’t lead to more hit-and-runs, as some anti-immigrant groups thought it would. It led to a decrease “in the rate of hit-and-run accidents between 7 and 10 percent.”

In 2015, California experienced 4,000 fewer hit-and-run accidents because of the new licenses issued. However, just because state officials have allowed these licenses to be issued, doesn’t mean county clerks are willing to do it

READ: Trump Administration Is Attempting To Violate State Laws By Requesting Driver’s License Information

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Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

Things That Matter

Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

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As the United States ramps up its vaccination program (with more than two million people getting vaccinated each day), many Americans are eager to get that jab in the arm. But who is eligible varies from state to state and sometimes even county to county.

Despite the different eligibility thresholds in each state (depending on age group or risk factors), there is no immigration requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level. However, not all places are following that guideline and some undocumented residents are being incorrectly turned away.

The pharmacy chain Rite Aid is apologizing after two undocumented residents were denied vaccines.

The giant pharmacy chain Rite Aid has apologized to two undocumented immigrants who the company said were “mistakenly” denied COVID-19 vaccinations at Southern California stores. However, since then, the two women have been invited back by Rite Aid to get their vaccinations and the chain has issued an apology.

Rite Aid spokesperson Christopher Savarese described both cases as “isolated” incidents resulting from workers at the stores not following established protocols for vaccine eligibility. The employees will be re-educated on the protocols to make sure everyone is on the same page.

In a statement later sent to ABC News, Rite Aid officials said, “In such an unprecedented rollout, there are going to be mistakes and there will be always areas for providers to improve — we’re seeking out those opportunities every day.”

Savarese added, “This is very important to us that this is corrected. Both of the situations that we’re talking about have been resolved, and both of those people will be getting their vaccine at Rite Aid.”

To clarify, just who is eligible for the vaccine at this moment?

Although vaccine eligibility does vary from state to state, even county to county, there is nothing requiring that someone prove their immigration status to receive a vaccine. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who represents Los Angeles, told ABC News that the legal immigration status of a person is not supposed to interfere with them getting vaccinated.

“That is not a requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level, and that organization (Rite Aid) has been told very clearly that that was wrong, and they immediately apologized for doing so, but it left the woman very distraught,” Cárdenas told KABC of Rager’s employee.

On Feb. 1, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that the agency and its “federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants.”

“It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines,” the DHS statement reads.

However, the confusion over whether undocumented immigrants qualify to receive vaccine has continued to occur not only in Southern California, but elsewhere in the country. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley issued an apology to at least 14 people who were rejected Feb. 20 at its vaccination site because they could not provide proof of U.S. residency.

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This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

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This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

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Lawyers are working hard to get a deportation order removed against a woman who just left a church sanctuary after three years in the refuge. Although she was previously denied asylum in the U.S., advocates are hoping that under new direction from the Biden administration, her case will be reviewed and she’ll be able to stay with her family in Ohio – where she’s lived for more than twenty years.

A mother of three is back with her family after living three years inside a church.

A mother of three who sought refugee inside an Ohio church from immigration authorities has finally been able to leave three years later. Edith Espinal, who herself is an immigrant rights advocate, had been living at the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 to avoid being deported to Mexico. She’s now out of the church and back with her family following a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have agreed that she’s not an immediate priority for deportation.

“Finally, I can go home,” Espinal told reporters after meeting with the officials. With tears of relief, she celebrated the small victory in the presence of dozens of supporters who accompanied her to the ICE building.

“But it is not the end of her case. We’re still going to have to fight,” her attorney Lizbeth Mateo said.

ICE has agreed to hold off on her deportation proceedings pending her asylum request.

Espinal was released under an order of supervision, meaning that while she’s not considered an immediate priority for deportation, she must periodically check in with ICE officials to inform them about her whereabouts.

She has lived in Columbus for more than two decades and had previously applied for asylum, citing rising violence in her home state of Michoacán. But she eventually was ordered to leave the country, which is when she sought refuge inside the Columbus, Ohio church.

“We’re going to continue pressing the Biden administration to do the right thing, and try to get rid of that order of deportation against Edith, so she can walk freely like everyone else does without fear,” Mateo said during the press conference.

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