38 Undocumented Immigrants Begin Applying for Driving Privilege - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

38 Undocumented Immigrants Begin Applying for Driving Privilege Cards in Del.

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The Georgetown DMV on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: WBOC) The Georgetown DMV on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: WBOC)

GEORGETOWN, Del. - Starting Sunday, the controversial driving privilege cards were made available across Delaware, six months after it was signed into law by Gov. Jack Markell. As of Wednesday, 38 undocumented immigrants have begun the process by setting up appointments for fingerprinting at the State Bureau of Identification. 

Fingerprinting is the first step in obtaining a card, that would allow undocumented immigrants to drive in Delaware. Those cards would not be for any type of identification, beyond driving purposes.

After fingerprinting is complete, the applicant must provide proof to the Division of Revenue that they have paid state taxes for at least the last two years. They also must provide a valid form of identification from their home country. At the DMV, the applicant will have to take the same driving test, as anyone else. 

Kevin Andrade, a Georgetown activist and the owner of various radio stations including Maxima 95.3, said the change would have major impacts on the Hispanic community.

"I think it's important because it is going to take a lot of people out of the shadows," he said. "I think it's going to provide the opportunity for these families to go to work. And to take the kids to the doctors."

Javier Torrijas, the chair of the Delaware Hispanic Commission, said that recent studies indicate that there are in between 20,000 and 35,000 undocumented immigrants in Delaware. He said that does indicate that the number of 38, is a "slow start." He said that this number will likely rise over the next couple weeks. 

"I think you're going to have a slow start," he said. "As people gain more confidence in it, it will increase." 

Torrijas said that many in the Hispanic community have fears of being deported, and so they are hesitant to get fingerprints done.

"I definitely think fear of deportation is a factor," he said.  

Lester Rodriguez, an undocumented immigrant from Seaford, said that he plans to get the card sometime next week.

"It's important because one could drive more safely," he said in Spanish. "You wouldn't be risking being pulled over by police. And the most important part is the security for everyone that drives.  

Many in Southern Delaware remain opposed to the law, including former state trooper Rocky Justice. 

"I'm a firm believer that we should all follow the same rules," he said. "If you are here on a visa or a green card, I don't have a problem with you getting a license privilege. If you are here illegally, I do have a problem with that." 

Many Sussex lawmakers were vocal in their opposition, including Republican Sen. Brian Pettyjohn of Georgetown. 

"I'm still opposed," he said. "But that ship has sailed now." 

Delaware is the 12th state to extend driving privileges to qualified people who are in the U.S. illegally.

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