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News & Music Contributors
Washington State Legislature
Tue March 8, 2011
Immigration check for driver’s licenses appears unlikely
Washington could soon be the last state in the nation to issue driver’s licenses without an immigration check. A controversial proposal in Olympia to create a two-tier license system appears to have died. Senate Republicans failed to force a vote just before a key legislative cut-off.
Currently, only Washington and New Mexico don’t require proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the country to get a driver’s license.
Legislation to require a Social Security check has passed the New Mexico House. In Washington, Senate Transportation Chair Mary Margaret Haugen wanted to create a two-tier license system:
- People who couldn’t prove they are in this country legally would still get a license to drive.
- It would be stamped “not valid for identification.”
Opponents call it a 'Scarlet Letter.' Haugen says she’s not giving up:
“Nothing is ever dead in the legislature. New Mexico is passing their bill. That’ll mean we’re the only state in the union. I think a lot of us have concerns that there will be an initiative that will be far worse – devastating to our agriculture community. ”
A more far-reaching initiative to the people has already been filed that would prohibit illegal immigrants from getting a driver’s license. Haugen says she plans to ask Governor Chris Gregoire to take a lead on this issue.