Undocumented youth starting to receive licenses under deferred action program
When 17-year-old Alondra Esquivel needs to get from her rural central California home to classes at Fresno State University 20 miles away, she must rely on rides from her relatives or her boyfriend.
Most Californians her age can drive. But Esquivel, a college freshman, was brought illegally to the United States from Mexico when she was 7. And California has denied driving privileges to immigrants lacking legal status since 1993.
“Without a license … I have to depend on others to do the basic things,” said Esquivel, who lives in rural Parlier, Calif., has classes at the college four times a week in Fresno. “It’s a big inconvenience.”
But Esquivel soon could get driving privileges: She is one of an estimated million eligible for a new federal program that temporarily defers deportation and grants work permits to people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. California has the largest number of potential applicants.
The new immigration policy has brought to the forefront the long-running and bitter debate over whether undocumented immigrants should have access to driver’s licenses. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that each state could determine whether to issue licenses or extend other benefits to young immigrants who qualify for the deferred status.
Read more at NBC Latino