Poll: 58% support licenses for undocumented immigrants

A poll by Public Policy Polling showed 58 percent of Iowa caucusgoers support the idea of issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which commissioned the poll, has advocated for the state to begin issuing those licenses.

“It’s encouraging to hear that the majority of Iowans support allowing all immigrants to access driver’s licenses both from a humanitarian and safety perspective,” Erica Johnson, ACLU of Iowa advocacy director, said in a statement. “Immigrants, whether they have authorization or not, are here and are driving. That’s because in a state like Iowa that is rural with harsh winters, they often have little option other than to drive in order to get to school, to buy food, or to get to doctors and churches. Making sure they are tested on the rules of the road and have insurance simply makes sense and helps everyone.”

Rep. John Kooiker, R-Boyden, introduced a bill in the House that would authorize the state to begin issuing those licenses. However, it was introduced after a legislative deadline known as "funnel week," and House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, said it will not advance this session.

PPP surveyed 506 Iowa caucusgoers Feb. 16 and 17. The margin of error is 4 percent.

 Brianne Pfannenstiel, bpfannenst@dmreg.com 4:30 p.m. CST February 25, 2016


Living in a Car Culture Without a License

Immigration Policy Center highlights a study by Drake University adjunct Professor Sarah Hendricks. 

"Community leaders in the United States increasingly recognize the contributions of immigrants to the growth of state and local economies, in both traditional and new immigrant destinations, as immigrants help revitalize declining communities and ailing economies. In recognition of these contributions, states and cities across the country are creating welcoming initiatives that seek to integrate and maximize the contributions of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, without an emphasis on legal status. On a parallel track in terms of initiatives that facilitate the integration of foreign-born arrivals, some states offer driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Many more states are considering it. This makes sense given that the United States is among the top motor-vehicle dependent countries in the world. States that do not offer driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants will limit the contributions that immigrant communities as a whole can potentially make, are likely to face negative economic and public safety consequences, and tend to fail in attempts to use such restrictive state-level policies to reduce the presence of unauthorized immigrants."

August Dialogue: Driver’s Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants: Why it Matters

Presented by Sarah Hendricks of Drake University, Chief Michael Tupper of Marshalltown, and Lori Chesser of Davis Law firm, this panel of experts will discuss how access to driver’s licenses is important for immigrants in order to maximize their contribution to communities.

This event will be held at Central Library in Des Moines on 1000 Grand Ave. Admission is free and attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch!

Visit www.iowainternationalcenter.org to watch and enjoy previous dialogues on YouTube. 

Letter to the editor: Legislature should adopt temporary driver card

I appreciated the guest column by prominent Iowa law enforcement officials, “Temporary Card for Immigrant Drivers Would Protect the Public” (Feb. 2). As a business owner who delivers fresh produce all over Iowa and surrounding states, I think it makes a lot of sense and helps my bottom line to require all of Iowa’s drivers to be tested, know the rules of the road and to carry auto insurance.

According to a report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, one in every 11 Iowa drivers is uninsured. Uninsured drivers are more likely to be in accidents and raise the cost of insurance for all of us. According to the Insurance Research Council, the average cost for liability insurance in the U.S. is around $40 to $50 a month per person, typically adding 7 to 10 percent to an insurance premium.

Common sense tells us that our roads are more dangerous for each untested, unlicensed driver we share it with. As a result, we all pay the price. The Iowa Legislature should change the law.

— Brendan Comito, Capital City Fruit Inc., Norwalk

Police Chief rallies for temporary driver’s licenses for immigrants

Tupper: It’s a public safety issue in Marshalltown

February 5, 2014

By STEPHANIE IVANKOVICH - Staff Writer, Times-Republican


Local support is growing for an initiative to give temporary driver's licenses to immigrants.

Mike Tupper, Marshalltown Police Department chief and other law enforcement officials, have been talking to state leaders about honoring and supporting such a law.

Tupper said the idea is to give a two-year, temporary driver's licenses to any immigrant who can pass a driving test, get mandatory insurance and be able to prove their identity.

"It's not an immigration issue, it's a public safety issue," Tupper said. "I think that it's good for law enforcement, I think it's good for traffic safety and I think it's good for public safety in general."

…read more at the source:

Police chiefs urge driver cards for state immigrants

People without licenses more likely to be in accidents, SL’s Prosser says.


Police chiefs and sheriffs across the state of Iowa are starting the discussion about issuing immigrant drivers a temporary card as a form of driver’s license.

In a letter written by Marshalltown Chief of Police Mike Tupper and Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy to The Des Moines Sunday Register, one of the growing challenges for safety officials is the lack of driver’s licenses among immigrants. The letter was also signed by Storm Lake Public Safety Director Mark Prosser.

In Iowa, immigrants who are residents in the community but don’t have a Social Security number would have to meet certain requirements in order to obtain a card.

…read more at the source:

Advocates for undocumented workers to push for driver’s license bill

January 8, 2014 By 

Immigration activists say they will try again this year to get a bill passed to allow undocumented workers to obtain Iowa drivers’ licenses. Some states issue licenses to those here illegally, so they can drive legally to and from work. But, up to now, such bills have failed in the Iowa legislature.

Currently, only young, undocumented workers — so-called “dreamers” — can get licenses to drive. Tom Chapman, with the Iowa Catholic Conference, says some were afraid to reveal their illegal status to the DOT. “There was some fear for people to come forward in that process. It is a leap of faith for people to believe they’re not going to get into further trouble for this and they’re not going to be deported after they do it,” Chapman says.

Advocates for undocumented workers say the immigrants are driving illegally now to get to their jobs, and it would be safer for the public if they obtained licenses. In the past, large groups of immigrants have come to the statehouse to try to convince lawmakers to allow them to obtain driver’s licenses, even though they do not have documentation to hold down jobs.

Chapman admits the bill’s prospects are dim. “I think we’ve seen some signs that both parties are willing to open their eyes and see something a little different. Having said that, it’s an election year, so I think it’s going to be a tough road ahead for this legislation,” Chapman said.

A bill was introduced in the Iowa Senate last year to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but it did not make it out of the transportation committee. Chapman said bringing the bill up again will help educate the public about illegal immigration.

Iowa View: Temporary card for immigrant drivers would protect the public

Posted at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140202/OPINION02/302020036/Iowa-View-Temporary-card-immigrant-drivers-would-protect-public

Written by Mike Tupper and Bill McCarthy

MIKE TUPPER is Marshalltown Chief of Police and BILL MCCARTHY is the Polk County Sheriff. 

Paul Fitzgerald is the Story County sheriff. This column is also signed by Judy Bradshaw, Des Moines chief of police; Ric Martinez, Nevada public safety director; Mark Prosser, Storm Lake public safety director/police chief, and Daniel J. Trelka, Waterloo director of safety services. 

We in law enforcement deal with a significant number of undocumented immigrants who live and work in our communities. This reality requires us to respond to new challenges as we look to promote public safety. One of those challenges is the lack of a driver’s license among some immigrants in our communities.

A growing number of individuals, including some of us in law enforcement, support a change in the law to allow for issuing a temporary two-year “driver’s card,” which would be given after a person undergoes testing, gets mandatory insurance, and after proving identity and Iowa residence.

As long as those safeguards are met and the information is verifiable, this temporary licensing promotes law enforcement goals for public safety.

Our roadway safety would be improved for all by ensuring that all drivers get tested on their driving skills, know the rules of the road and have access to insurance. People driving without licenses are more likely to be involved in accidents and are more likely to flee from the scene of traffic accidents.

The Iowa Department of Transportation database is used as a crime-fighting tool to serve summons and execute warrants. Adding the thousands of people who would be eligible for temporary driving cards would expand that database and allow for correct identification and apprehension of criminals in our communities.

During medical emergencies involving immigrants, first responders, health care providers and crime victim advocates would be able to use the licenses to identify the individuals they are assisting.

Thirteen states already offer some form of driver’s card to immigrants. These cards, which are compliant with federal REAL ID requirements, are visually distinct from other licenses. Proposals for temporary driver’s cards make clear that no one can use a driver’s card to register to vote or to actually vote, apply for public benefits, apply for a firearm owner ID card, board an airplane or enter a federal building. The driver’s card would have to be renewed every two years.

In Iowa, immigrants who are residents in our communities but who don’t have a Social Security number would have to meet certain requirements, including:

• Passing a driver’s test and demonstrating knowledge of rules of the road.

• Providing proof of established Iowa residency.

• Providing proof of identification.

• Obtaining and carrying proof of auto insurance.

We believe that making a driver’s card available to immigrants in our state will help make Iowa’s roads safer by getting everyone tested, licensed, and bonded. And that is something that will benefit every single Iowan.