IDOT on the road to justice

Recently, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many of the famous quotes of the mid-century activist have been resurfacing. With the recent reversal by the Iowa Department of Transportation to allow the undocumented immigrant youths of Iowa who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to receive a driver’s license, it seems fitting to talk about just what he meant when he said, “we may have all come on different ships, but we’re on the same boat now.”

It is high time that we as a state and as a nation learn to accept our neighbors without fear. Many of the young members of our community who have, or are applying for, deferred action are just as much as an Iowan as myself. They speak English, they take American history and America literature in school. They stand when our national anthem is played, and they care about local issues. Simply because they came to this country for the chance of a better future when they were children does not mean that they should be denied such freedoms many teenagers crave, like getting your first driver’s license.

The idea of allowing the DACA-qualified youth of Iowa makes clear sense to me. It clearly benefits the young people of Iowa by allowing them to drive to school, work, local businesses, or their place of worship without having the fear of driving illegally. It also benefits the state of Iowa by making sure that more people on our roads have proved they know how to safely drive by taking the driving test, as well as creating new revenue for the state through the general fees that everyone pays to receive a license. With an estimated 5,000 young Iowans now eligible to get a license, this will give the state almost $100,000 that they would have missed out on under their previous interpretation of the law.

In short, the time has come to realize that these young members of our society that weren’t originally born here are full members of our society, and deserve all the rights that I enjoy. The decision by the Iowa DOT is a step in the right direction for justice for all, and I look forward to the future steps we will take as a nation and state to welcome our brothers and sisters into our communities.