By Bill Sarno
Beginning with the new year, hundreds of undocumented immigrants, many of whom are Hispanic, will be reporting each week to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle offices to begin the process of obtaining a new type of state-issued driver’s license.
These licenses, which are not valid for state or federal identification purposes or to vote, were created to help immigrants and to improve public safety by ensuring all drivers are tested and know the rules for driving. They also represent a new revenue source for the state.
Organizations such as the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and individuals such as former LPRAC member Carlos Candal devoted years of research and tenacious lobbying to make this program a reality.
As many as 65,000 immigrants are expected to apply for these drive-only licenses. While many are expected to be Spanish-speaking, the program is open to all undocumented aliens and provisions have been made for people whose primary language is French, Polish, Italian or Portuguese.
Since Dec. 1, when the state began accepting applications exclusively online for the learner’s permit knowledge and vision tests, approximately 28,000 immigrants have made appointments. For many, the license is essential to holding a job that involves driving and will remove an element of stress and uncertainty.
The first applicants are due to arrive…