Young immigrants to begin receiving driver’s licenses

by Eric Ginsburg


Young immigrants like Erick Renteria Marin who were approved for deferred action are celebrating the announcement that North Carolina would begin issuing driver’s licenses next month. Marin, a Greensboro resident and high school senior was allowed to take the written and driving exams and was granted a temporary license in January before being told he was not eligible for a license.

Young immigrants like Marin, who meet certain qualifications, started being approved for Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program providing a temporary work permit and relief from deportation, in the fall. North Carolina initially granted DACA recipients drivers’ licenses before reversing the practice around the end of last year, immigration attorney Ben Snyder said. Marin, one of over a dozen clients at Snyder’s firm who were subsequently denied, decided to sue.

“In order to go get a job I need [to drive] a car,” said Marin, who also plans to drive himself to school. “[The DMV] teased me. They gave me something and they took it away.”

On Jan. 17, state attorney general Roy Cooper said the state should issue driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, but the DMV stalled saying it would review the issue. Lawyers at McKinney Perry and Coalter, the Greensboro firm Snyder works for, filed a lawsuit on Marin’s behalf on Feb. 7. After a DMV announcement last week that it will begin providing licenses to differed action recipients, Snyder said the firm would withdraw the lawsuit when Marin is granted a license.

Marin said he isn’t mad that the DMV will take over a month to begin granting licenses to immigrant youth like him, saying he is just happy to be getting a license. Snyder the DMV could not answer whether Marin will be forced to retake his written and driving exams or re-pay an application fee.

“Everyone has an interest in making sure drivers are insured and know the rules of the road,” Snyder said, adding that refusing to issue licenses would not keep people from driving and that the new policy will increase the number that are insured and tested.