Senator Proposes Banning Driver's Licenses For Immigrants Granted Deferred Action

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State Senator Josh McKoon talks with supporters at the Wild Hog Dinner in Atlanta.
Sen. McKoon's bill would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press


President Obama will unveil his executive action plan for immigration today. The president is expected to expand deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), a program that has allowed many who arrived illegally in this country as children to temporarily stay in the U.S. and apply for work visas.

One Georgia Republican lawmaker is already trying to combat the efforts.



A bill pre-filed by Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.

Sen. McKoon says he’s proposing the bill to counter the actions being taken by the president.

“This law is not targeting any group of people. It is targeting the overzealous action of President Obama. He is creating this problem. And frankly, Georgians are collateral damage in this fight.”

Sen. McKoon says that’s not the only reason.

“It creates frankly a security problem, it creates a road safety problem, and it creates a voter integrity problem. We’ve already seen in North Carolina, people on deferred action status attempting to register to vote and participating in elections, so for all of those reasons I brought forward Senate bill 6.”

But Azadeh Shahshahani with the ACLU Foundation of Georgia calls the bill disappointing.

“It’s really a defeating move to try to restrict the ability of people who have been granted permission to work to try to restrict their ability to drive. We’re talking about youth. We’re talking about victims of domestic violence who actually do need to be able to drive to get away from their abusers.”

And Shahshahani says it’s better from a public safety standpoint for those with deferred action to have driver’s licenses.

“It’s really to the benefit of the state to ensure that individuals are tested, they are trained, they are insured, and that they are basically given the ability to drive by the state of Georgia so they can get to work.”

Earlier this year, a similar measure was defeated by state lawmakers. A 2013 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report revealed 18,497 living in Georgia had been granted deferred action status.

Georgia Agrees to Comply with "Motor Voter Act," in Settlement of ACLU Suit

Suit Eases Path for Public Assistance Recipients to Register to Vote

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2012

ATLANTA – Georgia has agreed to make it easier for people who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance to register to vote, in a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

“This is what government in a democracy should be doing,” said Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, “making sure that as many eligible people as possible have the ability to participate. We’ve seen far too many attempts to keep people away from the ballot box this year. With this settlement, at least, Georgia is moving in the right direction.”

The suit charged Georgia was violating the National Voter Registration Act, popularly known as the “motor voter act.” A provision of the law requires states to offer opportunities to register to vote at all offices that offer public assistance.

Under the agreement, Georgia will allow residents to register whenever they apply for, renew or change an address for an assistance program, regardless of whether they come to an office or contact an office over the phone, by mail, or over the Internet.

According to the lawsuit, voter registrations through assistance agencies in Georgia had dropped off drastically since the motor voter law went into effect in 1995. In the first year of the new law, over 100,000 people applied to register through assistance agencies. By 2009, only 4,430 did, even though 70,000 Georgians a month were applying for food stamps alone.

The coalition that brought the suit also included the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Demos, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and the law firm Dechert LLP.

Download the settlement.