ARLINGTON, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - A traffic stop is not just a traffic stop if you’re an undocumented immigrant, it could lead to deportation — and in Virginia, a bill is moving forward that would grant undocumented immigrants driver's licenses.
Critics say this would reward immigrants who are here illegally and fast track their path to legal residency.
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Supporters say it would increase the state’s revenue and decrease the level of fear existing in the immigrant community
“There’s 17 other states who have done it and the other states have removed the legal presence requirement, the number of collisions have gone down,” said Scott Surovell, the state senator for the 36th District.
Senator Surovell says it would impact between 160,000 and 300,000 undocumented immigrants without driver's licenses in the Commonwealth; immigrants in Virginia illegally but working, going to doctor’s appointments and more. Many who if stopped in a routine traffic stop could face being detained or deported.
Surovell says granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants could generate between ten million and seventeen million dollars a year.
The Senate will vote on the bill Monday. An identical bill is in the House. If all pass, Governor Ralph Northam would then have to sign it and it would go into effect likely January 1 of next year.
Maryland, D.C. and 15 other states have similar laws granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, including New York where on Thursday, the Trump Administration blocked New York drivers from participating in Global Entry programs over the state allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.