Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles officials announced Friday that all state offices would issue temporary driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants accepted into a new federal program.
The announcement follows weeks of uncertainty for youth given permission to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Several individuals were denied licenses at local BMV offices despite possessing all the documents required by state law.
The new policy requires DACA documents to be faxed to the central office in Columbus and checked against a national database. BMV spokesman Joe Andrews said the process is similar to that of other immigrants who have been granted work permits and should only take a few minutes.
President Barack Obama introduced DACA in June 2012 to “defer action” against youth who had been brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. More than 245,000 — including about 1,500 in Ohio — of these undocumented immigrants have been accepted into the program after meeting several criteria, which include being enrolled in school, working after completing a degree or military service.
Individuals granted deferred action do not possess legal status, but are considered “lawfully present” by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ohio law and the BMV website reference U.S. citizenship or legal presence in its requirements for driver’s licenses.
Deferred action also allows individuals to receive a social security card, one of several documents accepted by the BMV when issuing licenses.