Immigrant Allies to hold meeting about DREAMers’ licenses

Immigrant Allies will host an informational session to discuss efforts to reverse the Iowa Department of Transportation’s decision to deny driver’s licenses to immigrants working and living legally in the U.S.

The informational session, titled “DREAMers Need Wheels,” will take place at 6 p.m. Monday in the Marshalltown Public Library’s meeting room.

Maria Alvarez, a volunteer with Immigrant Allies, said the DOT’s decision to disallow immigrants who live in the U.S. legally as part of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action policy from getting driver’s licenses had discouraged many DREAMers.

“We worked so hard. It was kind of a slap in the face for a lot of us,” she said.

“DREAMers Need Wheels” is part of the “Day of Action,” a statewide effort comprising Immigrant Allies, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups who find the DOT’s ruling unfair.

Joan Jaimes, with the Commission on Latino Affairs, will provide information on a letter submitted by that group to Gov. Terry Branstad’s office. That letter decries the decision, which the group says was made without its input, and implores the governor’s office to include members of the Commission on Latino Affairs, which the governor appointed, in further decisions.

“I don’t see why we cannot be forward thinking and be the state of opportunity instead of the land of barriers,” Jaimes said.

The DOT’s decision violations the Federal Real ID Act of 2005 and Iowa’s transportation code, according to the letter.

State legislators Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, and Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, will be at the talk to show their support.

Sodders said the meeting is something that is worth everyone’s time.

“We got to support the people in our area,” he said. “These kids are going to grow up and run our businesses and run for office.”

Sodders will also give information on a bill he is introducing in the Iowa Senate that would allow those benefitting from the Deferred Action policy to get licenses. Smith said he would like to work with the governor’s office and may also introduce legislation, but mainly will be present to learn about people’s concerns.

Alvarez said the meeting aims to give people who might have otherwise been discouraged hope that Immigrant Allies and others that support their cause are not sitting idly by. It just isn’t practical for the DOT to deny DREAMers licenses, she added.

“They have to realize that if we are going to school, and we are working, we are going to be driving,” she said.