by Lisa Sorg
Certain undocumented immigrants will be eligible for driver's licenses and ID cards, according to a press release issued today by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The department will also reinstate driving privileges to 13 immigrants whose licenses were suspending pending the N.C. Attorney General's opinion and the N.C. DOT review.
The decision affects immigrants who have been accepted into the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
In June 2012, Homeland Security established DACA, a program allowing undocumented immigrants who as children had been brought to the U.S. by their parents, to legally stay in the U.S. for two years without being deported.
On Jan. 17, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper issued an opinion authorizing the Division of Motor Vehicles to grant the licenses but the N.C. DOT delayed its decision to do so for nearly a month.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, disagreed with Cooper's opinion, telling The News & Observer that the attorney general's office "was wrong."
Immigrants and their advocates protested the delay, and asked newly appointed DOT Secretary Tony Tata to proceed with issuing the licenses.