Latinos protest driver license bill signing

The U’s M.E.Ch.A. Latino group organized a march Monday opposing Gov. Jon Huntsman’s signing of a bill that would change driver licenses for those without Social Security numbers.

“The main issue is to come together as a whole, as a community, and to show our support as a community against this bill,” said Lupe Ochoa, a M.E.Ch.A. representative.

Senate Bill 227 entitles the Driver License Division to distribute licenses to qualified applicants. Applicants must provide a Social Security card and have proof of residency or citizenship.

However, people without a Social Security card will encounter problems when trying to obtain a driver license. They will be given a privilege card, which enables them driving privileges, but not proof of proper government identification. The card will even have a different look from a regular driver license-meaning they will have a different format, color and font.

“One of the things that disturbed me the most about this legislation was that [the Legislature] placed ‘NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION.’ Our driver’s license is often our identification card,” said Mark Alvarez, the administrator of minority affairs at the office of the mayor of Salt Lake City.

People who do not have a Social Security card will lose their driver license after July 1, 2005 because they will automatically expire.

Ochoa believes that the passing of this bill will lead to similar bills being passed. Ochoa also said that immigrants are going to feel labeled, discriminated or segregated against and racially profiled as a result of this bill.

According to Alvarez, the police are not necessarily supporting the bill because of safety issues rather than immigration issues.

Immigrants are also worried the bill will affect many people in the work force.

“Current businesses will be impacted because they are not able to deliver their product or their service in a timely manner. I’m talking landscaping, cleaning, cooking and a lot of the service industries-and honest people. That’s a huge factor,” said Gloria Garcia Faulkner, president of Club de Mujeres Latinas. She believes this bill will affect 40 percent of the service work force.

Deportation was another concern around protesters.

“People are trying to do the right thing by getting their driver’s license. But the Legislature is going back on its word because they said people can get a driver’s license if they had one in their native country after taking a written test. But now people can’t go anymore because fear of deportation because they are undocumented,” said Maria Murguia, a mass communication major at the U.

“I hope, as the administrator of minority affairs, that we worked on trying to make sure we maintain a good relationship with the Latino community,” Alvarez said. “We are going to be more efficient as a government the better relationship we have with people in our community.”

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