“Deferred Action Immigration” Means Drivers Licenses for Many Young People in CT

Connecticut will now offer drivers licenses to young people who were brought to this country illegally, and who now qualify for the federal “deferred action” immigration plan.  Under that plan, illegal immigrants are immune from deportation if they’re younger than 30, were brought to the US before they turned 16, have been here for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, and graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. 

Mike Lawlor, the governor’s criminal justice advisor, says about 4,000 or 5,000 drivers in Connecticut are eligible.

“To the extent the federal government is making it possible to change their status to a lawful status, which is what has been done, then we’re very anxious to get them into the normal system, so that they’re driving around with a registered car, with a drivers license and with insurance.”

21-year old Lucas Cordognolla isn’t wasting any time getting a license. He has his road test scheduled for Thursday. Cordognolla’s originally from Brazil, and lives in Stamford.  He says he’s been driving without a license for years, because he needed to get to school and work. He says having a license will take away the fear of police that he had.

“It makes me feel like I’m recognized in the US. It makes me feel like more of an American than I already considered myself to be.”

A group of activists has been pushing for the change in Connecticut. “Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut” organized a rally in New Haven on Sunday calling for the state to allow licenses regardless of immigration status.   The group says about 54,000 Connecticut residents who must drive to work or take children to school cannot get licenses because they are in the U.S. illegally.