Friday, December 23, 2016
Hawaii should require data for its Limited Purpose Driver’s Licenses be destroyed to prevent mass deportations here
by Larry Geller
Hawaii, the District of Columbia and approximately twelve other states issue drivers licenses or IDs that may be obtained by undocumented immigrants and others who for one reason or another cannot obtain a regular license that conforms to federal requirements of the Real ID Act of 2005. These state’s laws provide an opportunity for those who do not qualify or do not want an official license or state ID to have some official identification.
Now, with the incoming Trump administration promising to effect mass deportations, these licenses have suddenly become a liability to their holders or applicants.
Hawaii can (and should) take steps to protect applicants by destroying the data related to those licenses. It was never the intention of our state legislature that these licenses would lead to deportation of many of the applicants.
New York City issues a limited-purpose ID called the IDNYC card or the Municipal ID. These cards are available to any New Yorker, regardless of immigration status. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to protect the thousands of undocumented immigrants who have signed up for a IDNYC card by destroying the applications for the cards in addition to other information kept in the city’s database. Not surprisingly, NY Republicans have filed suit to prevent the city from doing that.
Hawaii passed a law (HB1007. 2015) that requires “Limited purpose driver’s licenses” to be issued starting January 1, 2016. The law specifies which documents may be used to apply and require that the information is to be kept confidential:
Documents and information collected pursuant to an
application for, denial of, or issuance of a limited purpose
driver's license, limited purpose provisional driver's license,
or limited purpose instruction permit shall be confidential and
shall not be disclosed by the examiner of drivers or the
department except as required by law.
It’s that last part, “shall not be disclosed by the examiner of drivers or the
department except as required by law,” that would permit Trump’s long federal arms to grab Hawaii’s information in order to compile his database of undocumented immigrants to deport.
Hawaii should follow New York’s example and amend the law this coming session, as soon as possible, to require that the information be instantly destroyed. Alternatively, it may be easier to simply create rules mandating really short record retention.
It should be enough for law enforcement purposes to lump the limited licenses in with the regular license database. The renewal and reinstatement terms as well as the fees are the same as regular licenses and varies by age and issuing county.
The REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109–13, does not prohibit the issuance of alternative licenses or identification. Hawaii and the other states passed implementing laws with only good intentions, and we should now take the extra step of protecting those intentions by making sure that there is no information that the federal government can grab that would harm those who have taken advantage of this law.
If the individual surrenders his/her limited license or identification, then and only then should their information be allowed to be destroyed. I can't see why anyone who is undocumented should be issued an official ID in the first place.