Senate panel passes bill banning immigrant driver’s licenses

[private]Legislation that would prohibit driver’s licenses for immigrants who are legally residing in Georgia under an executive order from President Obama won the approval Wednesday of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

The committee voted 3-2 to give a “do pass” recommendation to SB 6, a bill that would ban licenses for residents who are allowed to stay in Georgia through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted by Obama in 2012.

Sens. John Albers (R-Roswell), Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), and Michael Williams (R-Cumming) outvoted Sens. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) and Harold Jones (D-Augusta) to move the bill forward.

SB 6 now goes to the Senate Rules Committee, which could decide whether to put the bill on the calendar for a floor vote.

As originally drafted by its sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), SB 6 would have outlawed driver’s licenses for all DACA residents.

The bill has been revised so that DACA residents could apply for a “driving privilege card” that is not an official license but would allow them to drive on the state’s highways.

“This is a balanced approach that solves the very real public safety and voter integrity concerns,” McKoon said.

Opponents of SB 6 said the bill still “dehumanizes” immigrants who were brought to Georgia at a young age by their parents. There are estimated to be 22,000 DACA residents in the state.

“It’s going to bring about the same kind of backlash that HB 87 did a few years ago,” said Samuel Aguilar, a lobbyist for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), referring to an earlier immigration bill passed by the General Assembly.

“It would dehumanize me and thousands of other people in Georgia,” said Raymond Partolan, who was brought to Georgia from the Philippines when he was one year old. “Could you look me in the eye and say, ‘you don’t belong here’?”

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: DACA , immigrant driver's licenses , Josh McKoon