One License For One D.C. Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: February 21, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Jack Evans and Brianne Nadeau

Summary: To amend the District of Columbia Traffic Act, 1925 to eliminate the distinguishing features of the limited purpose driver’s license.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with Councilmembers Nadeau, and Evans, I am introducing the One License for One D.C. Amendment Act of 2017.

During my first year on this Council, we passed important legislation to allow residents of our city who do not have legal immigration status to get driver’s licenses and identity cards.

We passed that bill both to improve safety on our roads and to ensure more equitable access to IDs, which have become so critical to daily life in our day and age.

While I supported the goal of that legislation, unfortunately I could not agree with the provision that required all licenses and non-driver’s ID cards issued to undocumented immigrants be marked differently than the credentials issued to everyone else in the city.

I argued at the time against having a different license or ID for undocumented immigrants because it would make them an easy target for federal authorities.

We have seen the indiscriminate disregard for human dignity and due process in immigration enforcement, most recently last week when federal agents in Texas arrested a domestic violence victim while at court seeking a protection order, and ICE officers rounded up men at a church homeless shelter in Virginia.

The Washington Post reported this weekend on draft versions of new executive orders being prepared at the White House to dramatically expand raids, deportations and other enforcement actions.

Based on the aggressive stance this administration has taken against human rights, we can expect federal officials will take advantage of the fact that undocumented immigrants in our community can be identified by a phrase on their licenses.

A document issued by our local government will be used by federal officials to arrest, detain and deport our residents, tearing apart families and wrecking communities.

The One License for One D.C. Amendment Act seeks to prevent this scenario from playing out by removing the distinguishing phrase “not valid for official federal purposes” from the limited purpose driver’s license and ensuring that licenses and ID cards issued by the D.C. government look the same no matter your immigration status.

It is a very simple change that will have far-reaching effects, strengthening our stance as a sanctuary city and depriving the federal government of a method for targeting undocumented immigrants.

It will likely mean that D.C. will need to no longer comply with the REAL ID law, or seek an extension on compliance from the federal government, as about half of other states and territories have done.

As a sanctuary city, we should be doing everything we can to protect the human rights of our community members, not put them at greatest risk of harm.

I hope to count on my colleagues support for this and invite co-sponsors.