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Update: Delaware Governor Signs Legislation Granting Driver’s Licenses To Some Undocumented Immigrants

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Delaware might become the next state to provide undocumented immigrants with driver’s licenses.

Earlier this week, the State Senate passed SB59, a bill that would provide undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements with a valid driver’s license. After receiving an overwhelming majority in the Senate, the measure passed with just one dissenting vote, the bill headed to its first and only committee stop in the Delaware House of Representatives — where it too was voted favorably out of committee.

With just days left in Delaware’s legislative session, the bill must now race against the clock in order to secure passed.

Senator Bryan Townsend, the bill’s main sponsor, told America’s Voice via telephone that he remained “hopeful” that the measure would be passed prior to the conclusion of the legislative session on Tuesday, 30.

“It has been a long road,” Townsend continued on the push to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in Delaware  “some people have been working on this issue for the past 15 years.”

Newsworks reported on some of the specifics of SB59:

The license is not considered a valid form of identification due to the applicant’s inability to prove legal presence in the U.S.

This bill doesn’t change any existing driver license requirements for those who are U.S. citizens or who have lawful presence in the country.

Applicants must submit two years of State tax returns as a means of establishing Delaware as their state of residence before they can receive driving privileges.

Delaware would not use the information gathered for the card for any other purposes, unless information indicative of a criminal history suggests a potential threat to public safety.

Governor Jack Markell is expected to sign SB59 should it make it through the House of Representatives next week.

Delaware would join 10 states, along with Washington DC and Puerto Rico, who already provide the driving privilege to undocumented immigrants.

“Families should not be separated due to gridlock on this [immigration] issue,” Senator Townsend told America’s Voice, giving a brief perspective on the status of immigration as an issue for the next year’s presidential race.

We will update this post as we learn more details on Tuesday’s vote.

UPDATE, 7/1:

Last night, June 30, the Delaware House of Representatives passed SB 59 – a vote of 22 YAY and 15 NAY was casted, pushing the measure to be sent to Governor Jack Markell for final authorization.

WDEL reports on the bill’s passage:

Gov. Jack Markell on Tuesday signed a bill allowing qualified undocumented immigrants to obtain driving privileges in Delaware.

The legislation was signed by Markell (D) shortly after it passed 22-15 in the state House. It was previously approved in the state Senate last week.

Individuals who wish to apply for driver’s licenses will have to meet specific requirements regarding their tax return, time of residence within the state, and income tax returns:

The measure allows driving privilege cards to be issued to people who are in the country illegally and who have filed Delaware state income tax returns for the preceding two years, or who have lived in Delaware and been claimed as a dependent on a state income tax return.

The bill includes an amendment that calls for the reconvening of a task force in June 2016 to review the implementation of the driving privilege card program and determine whether any changes should be recommended.

The following are some reactions to the passage of SB 59: