Man's hands of a driver on steering wheel of a minivan car on asphalt road

Courtesy of The Virginia Mercury

Lawmakers in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly voted Tuesday to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driving privileges.

Advocates packed the Capitol for the votes, filling an overflow room where an interpreter translated the debate as it unfolded on the floor of the Senate.

“It’s very, very important for me – this moment,” said Ingrid Vaca, who immigrated from Bolivia 20 years ago and lives in Alexandria. She teared up as she described deciding between driving without a license illegally, risking arrest and deportation, and spending two-hours traveling by public transit every morning to her job cleaning houses.

“My life was in the hands of all the people who voted today,” she said.

The Senate voted 22-18 to adopt its version of the legislation, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver privilege card.

To obtain the card, they will have to meet all the requirements necessary for obtaining a standard driver’s license, but must also have filed an income tax return. The cards would have text on the top stating that it is “not valid identification for federal, voting or public benefit purposes.”

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, who represents parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties, proposed the measure. He argued many undocumented immigrants are currently driving illegally and that making sure they pass driving tests and are inured will make roads safer. He also described it as a critical quality of life issue.

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State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th

“People need to be able to get to a job, take their kids to soccer, go to the doctor,” he said. “It’s an absolute necessity. This is one of the few bills we’re going to vote on this session that will change over 100,000 lives the moment it becomes law.”

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a nonprofit policy group in Richmond, estimated the new law would result in between 124,500 and 160,792 new drivers would be licensed under the legislation, generating a minimum of $10 million in new title fees, sales tax receipts, license plate fees and new car registrations.

The House’s version of the legislation, proposed by Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, is somewhat more permissive, granting undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain traditional drivers licenses with no special restrictions. It passed Tuesday on a 57-42 vote.

Under both bills, the credential would not serve as a  Real ID, a new standard the federal government is rolling out nationwide, which will be required to board airplanes and enter certain federal facilities.

The House and Senate will now debate the differences between the two versions of the legislation.

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(7) comments

JoeK

This is a complete outrage. This is what happens when people stay home and dont vote. We get this trash!!

Griffin

Why isn't it good for so-called "illegals" to self-identify at a govt agency and provide their address and current picture? Isn't this more useful than wondering where they are and how they currently appear? How "illegal" could they be if they are willing to raise their hand and tell you where they reside? What law enforcement official wouldn't take someone up on it?

P.S. It's nonsense to write that no other country allows foreign citizens to obtain local drivers licenses -- it's hard to find one that doesn't, and most will accept an International Drivers Permit, too, or reciprocate your home license.

Concerned citizen

It comes as no surprise that a liberal transplant from Los Angeles supports people just walking across our border and getting all the benefits that those immigrants that follow our laws to become citizens get. How does the DMV even know that the address they are providing is valid?

And no, you cannot just cross a border into Canada, Mexico, or any other country and walk up to a DMV and be issued a drivers license. You can't even legally cross the border into most countries without a valid passport.

It is sad that teachers at places like NVCC are focused more on indoctrinating students to the new communist US than keeping it a secure, free, constitutional republic.

Griffin

Ad hominem attack is beneath even you. The good people of this community outnumber you by far.

I've lived in Virginia for more about 30 years of my life and I indoctrinate no one. I didn't even vote for HRC.

Our constitution speaks to how we treat foreigners on our soil, who can be drafted and have traditionally served in our military. Apparently, you have little regard for those parts of the constitution you don't like. We'll call you a fair weather constitutionalist, much more likely a communist that those of us who understand it and teach it.

Rave on, Concerned Citizen. You're a gem, apparently one who uses LinkedIn. Take off the hood, you coward, and communicate with honesty and accountability.

Concerned citizen

Haha! You have been the talk of the Town for quite awhile. I commend you for living up to your reputation. Everyone says that they know they got to you, when your only response is down to blasting their name.

A "coward"? Perhaps, but I have done more things in hazardous situations for this country than you could only imagine in your dream world. Unfortunately my employer will not allow anyone to use their name on any social media site, due to national security concerns. I'm glad it gives you the chance to spout a distracting point, but there is nothing I can do about it.

And as a college professor you really need to study the Constitution a little, even though it is making your deep state takeover a bit harder. Several amendments definitely grant immigrants that PROPERLY enter this country most of the same rights and priveledges as citizens (an exemption is they cannot be a President unless they are smart enough to court seal all their records). Nowhere does it say that anyone can just sneak across the border and be guaranteed a drivers license.

It's amazing that during the Bush administration so many of your democrats are on record condemning the illegals. Your governor Jerry Brown in California would not even allow Vietnamese refugees to settle there in 1975. Why have they all suddenly become so hypocritical? Perhaps they realized if they allow lots of illegals in and offer them stuff at taxpayers expense, they can create a one party socialist government.

And don't deny you are a liberal. As mentioned around town; on several sites you never say anything against a liberal leaning post, but waste no time contradicting a conservative leaning post. That sums it up.

So I'll follow advice from many and not waste anymore time with this. You are more than welcome to continue your hot air as it's been pretty chilly outside lately.

AngryBob

Any republican who didn't vote in the last election should be ashamed of themselves.

Concerned citizen

Undocumented immigrants is a politically correct way of saying illegal immigrants. How come these people are not being required to go through the process of becoming a legal immigrant, like so many others have. No country in the world allows you to cross their border and go apply for a drivers license like the US is now doing.

It's ironic that democrats like Gov. Jerry Brown, during his first term, fought to allow immigrants from Vietnam to settle in his state. This was because he knew they would not vote democrat. On his second term he created sanctuary cities for all the immigrants from South America, because he knew they would vote for anyone giving them free stuff. So sad our state representatives are following him instead of making illegal immigrants follow the law.

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