The Iowa Department of Transportation announced today they will not issue driver’s licenses or I.D. cards to immigrants who have been given what’s called “deferred action” status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
They are people who originally came to the U.S. under the age of 16 without proper documentation, and are not yet over the age of 30. DOT director, Paul Trombino, says they made the decisions after reviewing a memo issued by the secretary of U.S. Homeland Security.
“As we’ve reviewed the Iowa Code, in the code chapter it essentially does require a foreign national as it’s discussed, authorized to be present,” Trombino says. “So as a result, based on our review of state law and state code, we do not have legal authority to issue a driver’s license or a non-operator I.D. card.” Trombino says there are licenses issued non-citizens.
“Typically what happens is, for any what we call foreign national as it’s written, they would supply an employment authorization document. And that is issued basically through U.S. Citizen Immigration Services and DHS,” Trombino says. He says there are a number of foreign nationals that are authorized to be here to work.
Trombino says the memo from Homeland Security changed how the paperwork is reviewed. “What Homeland Security did was use that same document, but they created a specific category code that was different from all the other ones,” Trombino explains. “So as a result, we will see these documents and if it has that specific category code, that gives us the ability to say we can’t issue it, based on Iowa code.”
Trombino says it is hard to say exactly how many people in Iowa may be impacted by the decision. Trombino says the last information he saw in mid-December showed about 367,000 people applied for licenses nationally.
“As to how many that relates to the State of Iowa, I don’t know. I know that Iowa is not among the top 10 states for residence of these individuals,”Trombino says. The Iowa ACLU had asked the DOT to state its position on the driver’s license issue for illegals after the released of the memo.
Trombino says the legislature would have to take action for the department to make a change in its policy.