Advocates meet to discuss wheels for DREAMers

On the day Americans witnessed the Presidential Inauguration, and celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., bitterly cold weather was not a deterrent to those meeting to discuss the recent decision by the Iowa Department of Transportation to deny driver’s licenses for DREAMers.

DREAMers refers to young people recently qualified for work permits, and protection from deportation. In a meeting held at the public library, and hosted by the Marshalltown group Immigrant Allies, attendees learned that Iowa is one of only four states which has denied driver’s licenses to this group.

Speaking to the group Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, remarked that the people of Iowa have nearly $100,000 invested in a child’s education by the time they graduate from high school. To force that investment out of state, Sodders said, “Makes no sense.”

Sodders was hopeful that new clarification from the Department of Homeland Security would reverse the state’s decision.

“In the event that does not occur, I’ve prepared legislation which I will introduce to resolve this problem,” Sodders said.

Maria Alvarez read statements from Marshalltown students affected by the state’s recent denial. One statement addressed the difficulty of having a job, and not being able to get there.

“We are caught in between. We have high hopes, yet each time there is a glimmer of hope, another challenge presents itself,” she said.

Also in attendance Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, met with attendees to discuss their experiences.

Supportive of overturning the DOT decision, Smith said, “I’m hopeful the governor will review the clarifications and implement the law without the need for further legislation.”

According to Immigrant Allies, as many as 5,000 DREAMers, including many who live in Marshalltown, have been adversely affected by the recent DOT decision. A statewide petition, supporting a change of that decision, was available for signature.