Tenn. Issues Driving Certificates to Immigrants
Since 2001, Tennessee has issued a "certificate" to immigrants that allows them to drive even though they may not be legal residents. This may be a way out for states that don't agree with the Real I.D. Act.
Tennessee is one of only two states that issue two different driver's permits: a license, for citizens and permanent residents; and a certificate for driving, primarily for those who cannot prove they are here legally. To satisfy domestic security concerns, the state has tried to forbid the certificate's use as identification. Utah also has a two-tiered system.
With Congress preparing to require states to issue driver's licenses only to citizens and legal residents, other states that want to allow noncitizens to drive may begin looking to Tennessee's system as a model.
Two-tiered systems like Tennessee's are discriminatory. Since the certificate is so different in appearance from a driver's license, it's a red flag - a scarlet letter. It doesn't operate as an identification card which prevents many immigrant workers from opening bank accounts. It would be better for the Senate to refuse to pass the Real ID Act this week. Since that's not likely to happen, this may be the best alternative.
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