Driver card bill may affect U’s undocumented students

By By Isabel Hill

By Isabel Hill

A bill that would require illegal residents of Utah to obtain a driver card instead of a driver license could have significant consequences for the U’s international and immigrant students.

House Bill 227 passed the Utah State Senate last week, and is now awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., R-Utah, and much of Congress have voiced support for the bill.

Panic and fear are spreading across much of the international community, especially among Hispanics, Utah’s largest minority group.

Jose (not his real name) is attending the U under illegal-alien status. He completed three years of high school in Utah, which enabled him to apply to the U. However, he fears that the legislation, if passed, may result in discrimination and deportation.

Last week, the United States House of Representatives voted to tighten U.S. amnesty laws and block undocumented immigrants from getting driver licenses.

Utah is one of 11 states issuing driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. Because of discovered cases of illegal immigrants’ fraudulent abuse of Utah’s driver license policies, the Utah State Congress now feels a need to make some changes.

A recent audit discovered more than 58,000 licenses and 37,000 personal identification cards have been issued to illegal immigrants.

Auditor General John Schaff wrote in his report that “Because a Utah driver license is easier to obtain than those from many other states, Utah has become a portal through which undocumented aliens can obtain a widely accepted form of identification.”

Many of these people come to Utah for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver license. Joe Reyna, the president of Mexicans in the Exterior, said there are people waiting outside the Department of Motor Vehicles on a regular basis. For a fee, they will take the test for someone who is illegally in the U.S. There are also those who make money providing illegal immigrants with a Utah address, he said.

There have been instances both in West Valley City and Salt Lake City where more than 60 drivers had listed the same address, according to Reyna.

He added that more than half of the individuals have been found to be illegal, and the residents of Utah, both legal and illegal, are left to pay the consequences of these abuses of the system.

Although Huntsman has acknowledged that most people come here to work, live and study, changes must be made or Utahns could lose the ability to use their licenses as official identification to board a plane or enter a Federal Courthouse, according to Reyna.

Tony Yapias, the former director of Hispanic Affairs for the State of Utah, has been fighting hard against HB 227. He said there is already a federal proposal in the works to unify the requirements for driver licenses in all states and that the Federal government will decide on the matter in the near future.

HB 227 still needs to pass the House of Representatives and then go back to the Senate for one final vote before Huntsman can sign it into law.

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