RALEIGH, NC- This morning House members moved a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get limited driver’s permits one step further. The House Finance Committee voted 22-11 to pass HB 328, the Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act. Under the measure illegal immigrants would be able to get either drivers permits or official identification cards, good for one year, under the requirement that they submit to state and federal background checks, fingerprinting and that drivers have insurance.
“This will reduce the number of people on the highway without insurance, and we will be assured that they know the rules of the road,” said Warren. “It also addresses identity theft by moving the penalty for producing counterfeit documents from a misdemeanor to a felony.”
Governor McCrory is opposed to the bill, saying that he objects to granting driving privileges to those who are in this country illegally. There is a vocal group of legislators who share the governor’s sentiment.
The bill has support from the Chiefs of Police who say it is a needed tool in law enforcement for building a database and identifying perpetrators, victims and witnesses.
“This can be used to create a state database for law enforcement,” said Warren. “While the information can’t be used to initiate proceedings against someone, the information will be available to police.”
From here the bill will go to the House floor where contentious debate is expected. The next challenge for the bill’s sponsors and supporters to find a Senator willing to shepherd it through the other chamber.
“We’ve been working with Rep. Warren on this for three years. It is going to be challenging to find someone in the Senate with the same passion that he has,” said Leonor Clavijo, Executive Director of the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.