Jewish leaders not satisfied with license change

March 22, 2013 3:28:52 PM PDT
North Carolina's decision to scrap a pink strip on driver's licenses for certain illegal immigrants does not go far enough for a group of Jewish rabbis who spoke in Raleigh Friday.

The state announced Thursday it was dumping the stripe, but keeping the bold letters ""LEGAL PRESENCE / NO LAWFUL STATUS" and "LIMITED TERM."

The state will begin issuing the licenses Monday to young adults participating in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration initiative grants valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought as children to the U.S. without legal authorization.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Hispanic groups and others had criticized the pink-striped design proposal as singling out holders of that identification for possible discrimination and humiliation.

Jewish leaders who had also joined the outcry said Friday that having licenses that are at all different from the ones issued to regular citizens is unfair, and likened it to the Bible's story of the Exodus from Egypt, when "our people were oppressed strangers in the land of Egypt."

They called for a "society built on the foundation of human dignity, equality, and compassion [that] does not single out young men and women for gratuitous discrimination."

They said they were especially disturbed that the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles would begin issuing the licenses Monday, eve of the Jewish holiday Passover.

They called on Governor McCrory to overturn the policy in a letter signed by more than 70 Jewish leaders nationwide.

Click here to read the letter (.pdf)

McCrory had previously supported pink-striped licenses, saying in February that he signed off on what he called the "pragmatic compromise" unveiled by Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. McCrory had said the licenses must be clearly marked to prevent the bearer from accessing government services or registering to vote.

A McCrory spokeswoman said Thursday the governor supports the new design.

Associated Press reporter Gary D. Robertson contributed to this report

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