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Latino Community Asks for Driver’s Licenses for All, Not ‘Privilege Cards’

People holding signs in a crowd
Marchers held signs and lobbied legislators after the event. (Photo: Whittney Evans/VPM)

Hundreds of people rallied at the state capitol today for legislation that would allow undocumented Virginians to legally drive a car. This comes as lawmakers negotiate what the driver’s license would look like. 

The group chanted “Si Se Puede” or Yes, you can, aimed at lawmakers who are set to approve a bill this session that would allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license. Daniella Queen lives in Richmond. 

"We are trying to get licenses because many of the people that work and live in this country pay taxes, own houses, pay car and home insurance but unfortunately we cannot drive and I don't think it's fair,” she said. 

Sen. Scott Surovell’s bill would allow undocumented residents to apply for a driver privilege card, which would require applicants to present their most recent tax returns and take a driver’s test. The House bill, introduced by Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) permits undocumented immigrants to get a standard driver’s license, without any additional requirements, beyond the driver’s test. 

Immigrant rights groups prefer the standard driver’s license for all because it wouldn’t signal the driver is undocumented. 

Eliseo Lopez is a pastor in Harrisonburg. 

“If it’s only a permit, that immediately is going to tell the police that they are illegals,” Lopez said. “So we are fighting for the driver’s license that everybody has.”

Lopez said the ability to obtain a valid driver’s license would benefit the vast majority of his congregants who need to get to work and appointments.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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