Washington contemplates Utah immigration license system

US CitizenshipDespite the fact that Washington is just one out of only two states in the United States that do not need applicants to display proof of residency such as US citizenship or a green card when they apply for a drivers license, the fight for the positions of governor and attorney general has resulted in new attention being given to a proposal that would bring about a two-tiered drivers license system in Washington DC.

The proposal, which is referred to as the Utah model, enables an individual who cannot prove their residency to acquire a permit that still allows them to drive.  While the document is not actually regarded as a valid form of identification, many political figures have still criticized the proposal.

“The idea that you should be able to obtain (a key identity document) without proving you’re a legal resident of the country is seriously mistaken,” says Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor.

The program has been working well in the state of Utah to date, although immigration advocates are also wary of the proposal, fearing that such information could end up being sent to the federal government by the state.  The number of people who have applied for the Driving Privilege Card in Utah rose to 38,997 last year from 21,600 in 2005, according to Utah Driver License Division data.

To avoid the possible consequences of the data being obtained by the federal government, lawmakers in Utah amended the law last year so that US Immigration and customs officials would only be notified if the applicant had a felony on their record.