Washington Considers Utah Immigration License System

Although Washington is only one of two states in the country that do not require applicants to prove legal U.S. residency when applying for a driver’s license, the races for attorney general and governor in Washington have brought new attention to a proposal that would enact a two-tiered driver’s license system in the state, according to Fox News Latino.

The proposal is known as the Utah model and allows an individual who is unable to prove U.S. residency to obtain a permit that enables them to drive. Although the document is still not considered a valid identification, the proposal is criticized by many political figures.

“The idea that you should be able to obtain (a key identity document) without proving you’re a legal resident of the country is seriously mistaken,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna told the source.

The program has worked well so far in Utah, but immigrant rights groups are worried that the information may be transmitted from the state to the federal government. Utah Driver License Division data shows that the number of individuals who apply for the Driving Privilege Card has increased from 21,600 in 2005 to 38,997 in 2011, according to the source.

To combat the potential consequences of the federal government obtaining the data, Utah lawmakers amended the law in 2011 to include the provision that the state will notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials if an applicant without proper permanent residency paperwork has a felony on his or her record. If the applicant has a misdemeanor warrant outstanding, the state has also agreed to notify the agency that sought the individual’s arrest, Fox News Latino reported.

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