Immigrants in New Jersey fearful of driver’s license requirements

New York.

Thousands of immigrants as Norma, they celebrated in New Jersey the signing of the law that will allow them to obtain a driver’s license, but now the fear of deportation has gripped them due to the proposed requirements to drive legally in the state.

Norma, who emigrated from the state of Puebla (Mexico) two decades ago to reunite with his mother and other family members in New Jersey, says he suffered greatly when his son was deported nine years ago. The same happened with her brother and her father, and she does not want history to repeat itself with her and be separated from her daughters of 13 and 12 years.

That is why, he tells Efe, that he needs to be able to drive legally in the state to leave the fear of deportation.

“I am alone with the girls and I have to do everything. If the bus does not come for them, take them to school, go to pick them up if they call me that they are sick, do shopping, many things,” she said.

“Having the license for me is very important and I do not want to risk that the police stop me on the way,” said Norma, who does not forget that she was arrested for that reason and had to pay bail to be released, nor terror who lived then to deportation.

That experience, he says, motivated him to fight for the driver’s license together with the community immigrant.

Last December, together with thousands of other undocumented immigrants, he celebrated the signing of the law by the Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and they only waited for the Department of Motor Vehicles to announce its proposed requirements to obtain the license, which that agency published last July and that they have been rejected by various groups.

Residents of New Jersey They have until September 18 to comment on the proposed requirements to obtain the new driver’s license from the state, including those related to immigrants without legal status.

What has caused the rejection and fear in the immigrant community is the requirement to show proof of number of Social Security or taxpayer personal identification number (ITIN).

The Department of Motor Vehicles proposes that those who cannot obtain a Social Security number or do not have an ITIN number should obtain a letter from the Social Security Administration, a federal agency, indicating why they are not eligible for a Social Security number.

“I am afraid; it is something that disappoints us and fills us with concern. I have my daughters and fear of stepping on a place like this and then having Immigration knocking on my door. I disagree and my community also,” Norma told Efe.

“How do we deliver ourselves (to the federal government), how do we deliver our information? We would be putting the noose around our neck giving information and then deporting ourselves,” he argued.

According to the immigrant The 46-year-old when the law was signed was “so happy because it had cost us so much,” but never imagined that a requirement like that would be proposed.

The law establishes two types of license: one that would meet federal REAL ID requirements that include proof of legal residency, and another that would allow undocumented persons to obtain this document.

Various pro-immigrant and civil rights organizations have rejected requiring the letter to a federal agency and have asked for that requirement to be removed.

“This does not go with the spirit or intention of the law when it was signed to give equal access to all people who need a driver’s license,” activist Carlos Castañeda, of the New Jersey Harvest Movement, who maintains that “it is not an unfounded fear.”

“They are exposing immigrant families to a federal agency, they have thrown into the water all the years of struggle for the license,” he says.

While the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice it has warned of the consequences of having to declare that one is undocumented “under a xenophobic federal administration.”

“The consequences of going to a federal agency could mean that your information is shared with Immigration,” said the acting director of the organization, Maneesha Kelkar.

New Jersey is estimated to be home to about 500,000 immigrants undocumented.

“I hope this changes and if we do not go out on the street again because it is an injustice that they want to force us to do something that is not correct for us,” said Norma, who assures that if this requirement is not eliminated, request the license “would be the last thing I would do. “

“My need is great but my fear is also great,” he assured.

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