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Indiana bills would give undocumented immigrants driving cards

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Many immigrants in Indiana are pushing for House Bill 1138 and Senate Bill 319 to get passed.

Under the current Indiana law, undocumented immigrants are not allowed a driver’s license. The bills would give driving cards to those immigrants.

Legislators say the driving cards are an alternative showing proof-of-driving qualifications. The cards also would allow the holder to get auto insurance.

The author of House Bill 1138, Rep. Chris Campbell tells News 8 the measures are a step in the right direction to making sure people are safer while out on the road. The Democrat from West Lafayette says the idea has been introduced more than seven times already in the legislature.

“They’re on the road; they’re driving without a driver’s license. That means that they may not have insurance on their vehicle, but they also have not passed a driver’s test,” Campbell said.

Wendy Catalán Ruano came from Mexico with her parents more than 15 years ago. The 23-year-old, the oldest of five siblings, said she’s already faced a host of challenges.

“My mom is undocumented and my dad in 2018 was deported under the same circumstances of not having a driver’s license,” said Ruano, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Ruano, who is also a community field organizer for Movimiento Cosecha, says the driving cards are a form of protection for many immigrants including her mom.

“Now that it’s just my siblings and I with my mom, we have to be a lot more careful because I know that if something were to happen to her in regards to going to jail or being apprehended by ICE (U.S. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), I would be the one fully in charge of my siblings,” Ruano said.

She says her mom is a hard worker and that a driving card would allow her mom to identify herself and provide some relief.

“We just want to know that my mom is safe so that if we were to move away we’d know that she’d be OK,” Ruano said.

Lawmakers say the driving cards would not allow carriers to vote nor would they provide a pathway to citizenship. Only a few states including California and Nevada offer driver’s licenses to drivers whether or not they’re undocumented.

The House bill was assigned Jan. 7 to the Roads and Transportation Committee. The Senate bill was assigned Jan. 14 to the Homeland Security and Transportation Committee. Neither bill on Wednesday was slated for any further action by the legislature in this year’s session.