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How driving to work could lead to criminal charges

As many people in Reading remember, President Obama started the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012 as a way to provide work permits and temporary relief from deportation to young people who lack a legal immigration status who were brought to the country as children. This was Obama's way of skirting the failure of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alient Minors Act in Congress. Although many young people in Reading and across the country have taken part in the program, it does not mean that getting to work is easy.

There is currently no law in Pennsylvania that allows for immigrants without a legal status to get a driver's license. For many of the young people who have been given work permits, trying to get to work without a car may be difficult. It would not be unreasonable to think that some defy the rules and drive without a license. The problem is, however, that they could face criminal charges and deportation if they are caught.

Unfortunately, President Obama cannot make a national rule that gives immigrants without legal statuses identifications and driver's licenses. Each state would need to pass this kind of legislation on their own. Whether the Pennsylvania congress is expected to consider a similar bill is unclear. What is clear, however, is that it can be incredibly dangerous to risk getting caught driving without a license, especially for an immigrant.

Criminal charges for immigrants are far different from they are for citizens. Any immigrant who is going to court on criminal charges needs to know this and to know just what a confession of guilt can do to his or her chances of eventually naturalizing.

Source: Latin Times, "New Jersey Bill To Make Undocumented Immigrants Eligible For Driver's Licenses," David Iaconangelo, March 10, 2014

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