Young illegal immigrants get drivers' licenses

March 25, 2013 2:41:09 PM PDT
A rally was held Monday at the Spring Forest Road DMV in Raleigh as young illegal immigrants granted protection from deportation got their first shot at getting a drivers license. Their message was simple --drive without fear.

Monday was the first day thousands of young people can participating in the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could apply for a license.

The young people rallied on the first day of the state's new program providing driver's licenses to immigrants brought the U.S. illegally as children.

Twenty-two-year old Maria Ruiz, from Raleigh, was one of those young people waiting in long lines at the DMV. Maria was brought to the U.S. from Mexico illegally when she was 14-years-old.

Now, eight years later, she has a North Carolina driver's certificate. She'll get a learner's permit in the mail, and then comes the driver's license.

"I feel so lucky because not all people get the privilege I'm going to get," said Ruiz. "So, I feel lucky I'm going to get to help my parents."

When Ruiz finally gets her driver's license, it will not be one marked by that controversial pink stripe that critics likened to a scarlet letter for illegals.

Instead the state has decided to use licenses much similar to the ones most North Carolina drivers receive, but they will be marked with red lettering that reads, "no lawful status."

The red letters still don't sit well with everyone. Some of the undocumented young people at the rally are refusing to get in line for the license, even though they're eligible.

The DMV announced that, as of 5 p.m. Monday, it has processed 314 issuances statewide to applicants qualified under the federal DACA program.

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