DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday that his administration is reviewing new information from the federal government that could shift his position on immigrant driver's licenses.
The Obama administration clarified on Friday that young immigrants allowed to remain in the country under the “Dream Act” policy are considered to be authorized residents. In December, Branstad's administration announced that the policy didn't give that group of young people the legal status to get a driver's license.
But civil rights activists in Iowa say the clarification should prompt a change in Iowa's policy that bars licenses for young immigrants living in the U.S. under the federal policy.
In a statement released Friday, Rita Bettis, staff attorney for the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, called on Branstad to start issuing licenses.
“We are asking for leadership from the governor on this to direct the DOT to start issuing drivers licenses to DREAMers in light of this clarification from the federal government,” Bettis said.
Branstad would not commit to that, saying the state must review the federal announcement. But he did say he would support legislation that changed state law to allow those young people to get licenses.
Bettis called the governor's comments encouraging and said she hoped this group of young people could soon get licenses.
To receive renewable two-year deportation reprieves, immigrants must have been brought into the U.S. as children and must meet specific age, residency and education requirements.
Most states have issued licenses to this group of immigrants, said Iowa ACLU Communications Director Veronica Fowler. She said Michigan, Arizona and Nebraska have refused.
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