By Marc Kovac
Children of immigrants who enroll in a federal program granting them temporary legal status would be eligible to obtain driver’s licenses, under legislation proposed in the Ohio Senate.
Minority Leader Eric Kearney, a Democrat from Cincinnati, and Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Democrat from Columbus, plan to introduce the law changes after hearing of incidents in which documented immigrants were denied licenses.
“Some BMV offices will grant licenses, while others will not,” Kearney said during a press conference at the Statehouse on Monday. “This legislation would clarify that the Ohio BMV should comply with federal guidelines and institute policies to guarantee that more insured drivers are on our roads.”
The proposed legislation would cover individuals in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which includes about 1,500 people in Ohio.
Eligibility criteria include moving to the United States prior to turning 16, living in the country since 2007, enrolling or graduating from a school, being honorably discharged from the armed services and avoiding criminal activities.
The federal program also requires a $465 application fee, Kearney said.
“These are young people who were brought here through no actions of their own,” Tavares said. “They’re abiding by the desires of their parents, so they shouldn’t be penalized.”
More than 30 others states have already instituted similar law changes.