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NC to Issue Driver's Licenses to DACA Recipients

In a recent change in policy, the state of North Carolina will be issued Driver's Licenses to recent recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program ("DACA"). A press release by the North Carolina Department of Transportation is an change from the past statements of NCDOT, and the agency now states that licenses will be issued to "those who qualify under DACA on March 25, [2013], once necessary training and computer programming changes are complete." Media reports have indicated that the licenses will appear differently than licenses issued to typical drivers and will reflect the license holder to have "NO LAWFUL STATUS", which has raised concerns with immigration advocates. However, the change by the NCDOT is a welcome sign that the NCDOT is not unduly punishing or segregating individuals that have been widely held as being in the United States through no fault of their own.

The Deferred Action Program was introduced by the Obama Administration in August 2012 as a way of deferring the removal individuals from the United States as an act of prosecutorial discretion. The program provides eligible individuals with work authorization cards valid for a period of two years, but does not provide individuals with lawful status in the United States. With these work cards, DACA recipients are provided with the opportunity to integrate into society through a lawfully issued document from the US Department of Homeland Security, permitting recipients to apply for benefits, such as driver's licenses, social security cards and school admissions.

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