Friday, December 10, 2010

It Just a License to Drive for Some, But Not for Others

Some Unlicensed Drivers Risk More Than a Fine

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — It was just another suburban fender-bender. A car zoomed into an intersection and braked too late to stop at a red light. The Georgia woman driving it, an American citizen, left with a wrecked auto, a sore neck and a traffic fine.

Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times
DETAINED Felipa Leonor Valencia, a Gwinnett County homeowner from Mexico facing deportation, was reunited in October with her daughter, Crystal, 16, and left, and niece Stephanie, 7.


But for Felipa Leonor Valencia, the Mexican woman who was driving the Jeep that was hit that day in March, the damage went far beyond a battered bumper. The crash led Ms. Valencia, an illegal
[undocumented] immigrant who did not have a valid driver’s license, to 12 days in detention and the start of deportation proceedings — after 17 years of living in Georgia.

Like Ms. Valencia, an estimated 4.5 million illegal immigrants nationwide are driving regularly, most without licenses, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Only three states — New Mexico, Utah and Washington — currently issue licenses without proof of legal residence in the United States...more

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