POLITICS

Georgia Lawmaker Proposes Driving Cards That Identify 'Illegal Aliens'

He claims the current licenses could be used for voter fraud or "to purchase explosives."

If a Republican state senator in Georgia gets his way, recipients of temporary reprieve from deportation would be more easily identified as undocumented -- by putting their immigration status on their driving privilege cards.

The state senator, Josh McKoon, proposed new cards that would be used only for driving -- not for identification, like the driver's licenses currently issued to such residents -- Atlanta's NPR station, WABE, reported on Monday. That includes young undocumented immigrants often called Dreamers who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

WABE's Elly Yu posted a mock-up of McKoon's proposed driving cards, which feature the text "ILLEGAL ALIEN" next to the cardholder's face.

McKoon previously proposed legislation that would take away driver's licenses entirely for those undocumented immigrants.

The senator did not respond to a request from HuffPost for comment on the new bill but told WABE the cards that deferred action recipients receive currently could be used for other purposes, such as voter fraud or buying explosives. His bill would prevent that, he said.

"The nearly identical version that is currently received could easily be used to register to vote," McKoon told the station. "It could be used to rent a car, to purchase explosives, a number of things that frankly, have nothing to do with driving an automobile."

Nearly 22,000 Dreamers in Georgia had been approved for DACA as of September. Other people may also have deferred action if they were granted temporary reprieve from deportation. 

McKoon's proposal would still allow deferred action recipients to drive legally, but singling them out poses constitutional problems, said Maya Dillard Smith, executive director of ACLU of Georgia. She said the bill "could end up costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoidable legal fees." 

"Any attempt by the state to undermine a preemptive federal law or otherwise shame or stigmatize a category of people who are lawfully in Georgia would violate the supremacy clause and create equal protection claims," she said in an email. "What's more, it appears that the proposed law is also so overly broad it would fail to overcome constitutional scrutiny in the courts."

Every state in the country allows DACA recipients, who have two-year work permits, to receive driver's licenses, although some governors and legislatures initially fought against it.

Then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer -- who spearheaded an infamous bill to drive out undocumented immigrants -- issued an executive order in 2012 to deny driver's licenses to DACA recipients, but the measure was blocked in the courts in January 2015.

Nebraska was the final state to end its ban on driver's licenses for DACA permit-holders in May 2015, after lawmakers voted to overturn a veto from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

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