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Protect Immigrant Access to Drivers’ Licenses and other Important Rights

By March 30, 2006No Comments

Downloadable:  English press statement

February 23, 2005                Contacts: Eun Sook Lee, 323-937-3703 (NAKASEC)    
Press Release                               Dae Joong Yoon, 323-937-3718 (KRC)
For Immediate Release                              Kent Chaegu Lee, 773-506-9158 (KRCC)
                                                               Yu Soung Mun, 718-460-5600 (YKASEC)

Protect Immigrant Access to Drivers’ Licenses and other Important Rights

[Los Angeles]   With the passage of the REAL ID Act (H.R. 418) in the House of Representatives on February 10, 2005 by a 261-161 vote, the focus is now on the Senate. The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and affiliates the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles, the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) is Chicago, and YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community in New York, are mobilizing its base of Korean Americans to take action and call on the Senate to oppose a Senate version of the REAL ID Act.  

Broadly, the REAL ID Act puts greater restrictions on immigrant access to drivers’ licenses, makes it more difficult for those fleeing persecution to seek asylum, and waives potential environmental concerns in constructing a fence to close a 3-mile gap along the US-Mexico border.  The bill also curtails the rights of immigrants to have a fair trial and expands the definition of “terrorism” to include actions normally protected by the first amendment.

“The REAL ID does not strengthen national security or address the problems of our broken immigration system,” said Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC executive director. “We are looking to the Senate to come out strongly against this bill and will be working with our affiliates to generate calls from Korean Americans to Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barack Obama (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).  We need to let them know that what America needs comprehensive immigration reform and not another measure to drive immigrants deeper into the shadows of society.”

With regard to the drivers’ licenses provisions, KRC executive director Dae Joong Yoon stated, “Korean Americans are particularly concerned about the drivers’ license provisions. Nationally, 1 in 5 Korean Americans are undocumented. They live, work and study in America and are long-term residents and integral part of our communities, our economy, and our nation. They should not be deprived of the basic right to drive, work and contribute to society.”

KRCC executive director Kent Chaegu Lee added, “Not only will undocumented Korean Americans be impacted by the REAL ID Act but U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents as well. The Department of Homeland Security will need to verify citizenship of each license applicant resulting in long delays. Naturalized citizens who do not have U.S. passports or access to their naturalization certificates are likely to face long delays because they cannot prove they are citizens.”

YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community executive director Yu Soung Mun concluded, “Korean Americans who are legal-non immigrants will also have difficulty accessing drivers’ license. According to the drivers’ license provisions, this grouping will receive temporary licenses, expiring when one’s visa expires. For legal non-immigrants, renewing or adjusting visa status will pose difficulties in getting or renewing their licenses as many employees of state Departments of Motor Vehicles will not understand the complexities of immigration law.”