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Democrats try to counter "scarlet letter" drivers licenses for young immigrants

Democrats have filed a bill to counter state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata’s decision to issue driver licenses to young illegal immigrants that have a bright pink stripe and the words “NO LAWFUL STATUS” in red capital letters.

The bill would prohibit the immigrants’ licenses to be distinguishable in any way from other licenses. It was filed Thursday by Democratic Reps. Paul Leubke of Durham, Rick Glazier of Fayetteville, Rosa Gill of Raleigh and Deb McManus of Siler City.

Tata announced last month that he would issue licenses to thousands of participants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which blocks deportation and grants a two-year work permit to undocumented youths who came to the United States before they turned 16, are not older than 30, and are high school graduates, attend college or have served in the military.

Some Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would put a moratorium on issuing the licenses. They contend Tata overstepped his authority.

Legislators want delay on immigrant licenses

A new House bill would prevent the state Department of Motor Vehicles from issuing licenses to young illegal immigrants who are protected from deportation and eligible to drive.

The bill filed Thursday would put a freeze on such licenses until June 15.

The state Department of Transportation said last week that DMV offices will begin issuing licenses to people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The issue affects up to 55,000 teenagers and young adults in the state.

The bill says that the complexity of the issues "requires a carefully crafted legislative response."

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