NC Driver licenses for illegal immigrants? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NC Driver licenses for illegal immigrants?

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A Charlotte immigration activist is pushing to allow all illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license in North Carolina.

In an open letter to North Carolina lawmakers, Maudia Melendez asks them to consider allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

She says their inability to drive legally is a public safety issue.

"These days we don't know who's driving on our roads," said Melendez.

The DMV stopped issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in 2006.

The last of the licenses issued before then will expire this year.

But Melendez says many undocumented immigrants still drive without a license.

"They have to drive out of the necessity to take their children to school, go to church and go to the different places that they need to travel too," said Melendez.

The issue of illegal immigrants obtaining driver's licenses is a hot button topic.

Opponents say changing the law sends mixed messages.

"We have certain citizenship and immigration laws in place and you just can't sweep those laws under the rug and say well, we want to follow all the laws, except for this one,"  said Representative Kelly Hastings of Cleveland County.

According to the 2010 census, undocumented immigrants make up 8 percent of the population.

Melendez recommends those applying for driver's licenses be subject to a criminal background check. They would also have to meet the same requirements as any other applicant and pay for car insurance.

But Rep. Hastings says it just doesn't make sense. 

"It would be bad for public health and safety of the citizens of the United States of America," said Rep. Hastings.

Melendez says so far no one has responded to her letter.

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