Amid ongoing criticism for his targeting of undocumented immigrants, right-wing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that as of July 1 2023, state authorities would no longer recognize driver’s licenses created in five other states for the benefit of their own undocumented residents.
As New England Cable News reported, the DeSantis administration’s latest tactic invalidates certain licenses in the following states:
- Connecticut licenses that indicate “Not For Federal Identification.”
- Delaware licenses that indicate “Driving Privilege Only” or “Not Valid for Identification.”
- Hawaii licenses that indicate “Limited Purpose Driver’s License” or “Limited Purpose Instruction Permit” or “Limited Purpose Provisional Driver’s License” or “Not Valid for use for official Federal purposes.”
- Rhode Island licenses that indicate “Not for Federal Identification” or “Driver Privilege Card” or “Driver Privilege Permit.”
- Vermont licenses that indicate “Not for REAL ID Purposes Driver’s Privilege Card” or “Not for REAL ID Purposes Junior Driver’s Privilege Card” or “Not for REAL ID Purposes Learner’s Privilege Card.”
The statute was implemented as part of state Senate Bill 1718, which DeSantis signed into law in May 2023.
“This harmful law is a laundry list of cruel policies meant to encroach upon the day-to-day lives of immigrants and those around them,” the immigration advocacy group United We Dream said in criticizing the measure.
The new requirement has also prompted threats of a boycott against the state by truckers saying they would refuse to haul goods in or out of the state.
“We have to do this, for us,” trucker Jose Quintero told the Bradenton Herald. “The law is discriminatory and does not take seriously the work and commitment of immigrants in several industries.”
The Herald also reported:
Even the briefest of boycotts could cause ripples in an industry that the Florida Trucking Association and the American Transportation Research Institute say moves more than 470,000 tons of goods per day and serves more than 80 percent of communities in the state that exclusively rely on truckload services.
DeSantis has defended the law by claiming that the special licenses allowed undocumented immigrants to “allows them access to state-funded services,” a claim refuted by Rhode Island state Rep. Karen Alzate (D), who sponsored the 2022 legislation that led to the creation of “drivers privilege” licenses.
“If I’m being frank, DeSantis needs to shut the hell up,” Alzate told the Boston Globe. “He’s spitting out incorrect information — harmful and incorrect information…. People who are undocumented don’t qualify for any public assistance. They don’t have legal status. People love to say that — knowing it’s incorrect.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia offer specialized licenses for undocumented residents.
This is not the first political strike DeSantis has levied against the New England region; the governor and Republican Party presidential candidate already faces a class-action lawsuit regarding a scheme to trick several immigrants from Venezuela into being shuttled from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts with false promises of work and assistance. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose jurisdiction includes San Antonio, said in a statement that he recommends charges of “both felony and misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint” be filed in connection with the illicit shuttling operation.