Recently, Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have allowed many young undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary driver’s licenses. That bill would have become law if it wasn’t for Gov. Rick Scott (R).
Scott vetoed the legislation, which would have allowed beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to seek driver’s licenses. Scott said his decision was rooted in his belief that DACA violates federal law.
“Although the Legislature may have been well intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis,” he said in his veto message.
The measure would have added an approved deferred action application to the list of materials that people seeking driver’s licenses can use to prove their identity, according to The Miami Herald. The state House passed the bill 115-2 and the state Senate voted 36-0 to send it to Scott’s desk.
More than 291,000 DACA applications have been approved nationwide, according to the federal government. And an estimated one million undocumented immigrants of all ages reside in Florida. Immigrant-rights activists have urged state governments across the country to grant driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, saying they are necessary to get to and from work and school.
Already, many DACA recipients in Florida are eligible to receive temporary driver’s licenses under a provision in Florida law that allows non citizens with federal work permits to apply. DACA recipients can also obtain work permits, but approval of work permits sometimes does not coincide with approval for deferred action.