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Changes to Utah driving privileges worries some Latinos

By Amanda Butterfield | Posted - Jan. 12, 2010 at 5:25 p.m.



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A new law went into effect at the beginning of the new year that has some members of Utah's Latino community concerned.

Under Senate Bill 40 the Utah Driver License Division issued a new type of driver's license on Jan. 1 called "limited term" license. The new card can be issued to an individual who is not a U.S. citizen, National or Permanent Resident Alien if they show proof of their entry into this country legally.

That ID works just like a driver's license, but for a limited time. Driving privilege cards are still available to Utahns who are not here legally.

On Tuesday Latino activist Tony Yapias of Proyecto Latino Utah, along with a representative from the Utah Driver License Division, answered questions from the media -- and Latinos -- about how these new limited-term cards apply to the driver privilege cards currently available to undocumented immigrants.

"The state of Utah is the only state in the country that allows the undocumented community to have driver's licenses, because by allowing them to do that, it keeps our community safe," said Yapias. "They have insurance, proper registration."

The legislature also changed the way these driving privilege cards are issued, and that has many applicants worried.

As part of the application process, drivers are now asked, "Are you an undocumented immigrant?"

Yapias says that question has members of his community worried that if they answer yes, their information will be given to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Yapias assured his community it will not.

As with driver's privilege cards, the new limited cards cannot be used for government purposes, like to get through airport security or get a passport.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield

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