Both North Carolina Catholic bishops, Raleigh Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis, applauded the January 17, 2013, ruling of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on the question of issuing driver’s licenses to some undocumented people.
The opinion from General Cooper will allow undocumented residents who have received a two-year deportation deferral from the federal government to obtain a North Carolina driver's license.
In June 2012, the Obama Administration put into place the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevents the deportation of an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children before their sixteenth birthday. To qualify for the two-year work permit, the individual must be no older than 30, be a high school graduate, be attending college or university or have served in the United States military. To date, more than 350,000 people nationwide have applied for the deferment.
In September 2012, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requested a ruling by the Attorney General’s office as to the proper documents required to obtain a driver’s license in the state. That action prevented the immigrants with deferrals from obtaining a driver's license. The DMV wanted to be clear that granting licenses to those who have received deferrals would not be in violation of existing state law.
The letter from the Attorney General states that the DMV “shall issue a driver's license of limited duration to persons who present valid documentation demonstrating deferment and meet all other statutory requirements.”
It is estimated that approximately 18,000 young people in NC will benefit by the President’s Deferred Action Program. In addition to the driver's licenses, those who are granted deferrals receive work permits and obtain social security numbers, allowing them to work legally in the U.S.