Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said Saturday that President Barack Obama was wrong to defer deportation for some immigrants who entered the United States illeglly as children, and the state attorney general's office was wrong in issuing its opinion that participants in the deferred-action program are legally eligible to get driver's licenses in North Carolina, The N&O's Bruce Siceloff reports.
"A person entering the United States illegally should not be afforded the privileges reserved for US citizens," Forest said in an email statement released by his chief of staff, Hal Weatherman. "The President is willfully ignoring the laws on the books and should be Constitutionally challenged on this point by our Congress.
While Congress has not acted, we in North Carolina can and should. We are a sovereign state and need to stand up and push back when the Feds encroach on our ability to protect our citizens and enforce our laws. The Attorney General's ruling leaves open the possibility that the DMV can issue licenses to those individuals who came to our country and state illegally. I disagree with this action."
The state Department of Transportation said Friday that it was "carefully assessing" the opinion issued Thursday by Grayson Kelley.
The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program delays deportation for two years for some illegal immigrants. Kelley wrote that the DACA program allows the young immigrants to remain legally in the country for two years, and it meets state law requirements for confirming the "legal presence" in North Carolina of non-residents who apply for driver's licenses.
Kelley wrote that neither the DACA program nor his opinion has any effect on the lawful status of illegal immigrants.
"We believe that individuals who present documentation demonstrating a grant of deferred action by the United States are legally present in the United States and entitled to a drivers license of limited duration, assuming all other criteria are met," Grayson wrote.
"This conclusion should not be construed to suggest that individuals granted deferred status under the DACA program have 'lawful status' in the United States. ... (Homeland Security) Secretary (Janet) Napolitan's memorandum, in fact, specifically states: 'This memorandum confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship.' There exists, however, a recognized legal distinction in immigration law between 'lawful status' and 'legal presence.'"