Maryland Criticized for Denying Licenses

S.A. Miller, Washington Times, May 3

ANNAPOLIS—An immigration rights group says the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is violating state law by denying driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

“The MVA has absolutely no right to ask for people’s Social Security number or immigration status to get a driver’s license,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group for Hispanic immigrants that has staged protests at MVA offices.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said the agency requires documentation—including a Social Security number—to verify a person’s identity, not the person’s immigration status. He said the check is performed in accordance with state and federal laws.

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According to CASA of Maryland’s 2003-04 annual report, the advocacy group was founded in 1985, is based in Takoma Park and has a $3.6 million fiscal 2005 budget and 42 staffers. Its donors include churches, civic groups, local governments and the federal government.

Maryland law does not bar illegal aliens from receiving driver’s licenses, and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has killed legislation to change that over the past several years.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, never publicly has taken a position on driver’s licenses for illegal aliens but has supported establishing a task force to study the issue. The legislature has not passed a bill authorizing such a study.

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