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

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.



Dispelling confusion about DMV and REAL ID

In the past week, there have been several reports regarding deadlines for D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to comply with a federal law known as REAL ID. Unclear information caused many D.C. residents to raise concerns that they would need to rush to the DMV to obtain a new REAL ID by a May 1, 2014 deadline.  Please note that this is not the case. Below we outline some key questions and answers.

Do I need to get a new license or ID?

Only if your license or ID is due to expire. Otherwise, your license or ID will remain valid for all purposes until its expiration date.

Do I need to get a new ID before 2016 in order to board planes?

Only if your ID is due to expire. Contrary to initial reports, all IDs issued by D.C. DMV will remain valid beyond 2016 if their expiration date is after 2016. If your license is due to expire in 2018, for example, you do not need to worry, and you can continue to use it for all purposes until it expires.

Will DMV contact me about getting a new license?

DMV will be contacting D.C. residents whose IDs are set to expire to inform them of the documentation they will need to bring with them to get a new license. Due to REAL ID implementation, no one will be able to renew licenses online until they get a REAL ID compliant ID. To renew your license or ID you will need to bring: proof of identity such as birth certificate or passport, proof of social security number such as a card or W-2 form, a green card or other proof of lawful presence in the United States, and two documents proving current residence in the District of Columbia from this list.

More information can be found on DMV’s website.