Young illegal immigrants can get driver's licenses, but they will not have a pink stripe.
The new state law takes effect today. It put a new driver's legal status on his or her license.
Lawmakers wanted to put a pink stripe across the top for illegal immigrants.
But the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles decided to put a mark on the person's picture instead.
The license will also say "no lawful status".
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Newly-designed driver's licenses for illegal immigrants are firing up a statewide debate.
Transportation officials say they're adding a hot pink stripe and bold letters on the licenses that'll point out illegal status.
Civil rights activists call it "discrimination."
Governor Pat McCrory supports the marked licenses. He says the licenses would prevent undocumented immigrants from voting or trying to access certain government services.
But not everyone agrees with him.
Civil rights advocates say the license distinction could lead to racial profiling and confusion.
In a few weeks, new driver's licenses for some illegal immigrants in our state could have a hot pink stripe at the top, the words "limited term" on the side and the label "no lawful status" at the bottom.
It's a design that's stirring up some controversy.
"This label leaves doubt that maybe these people are doing something wrong when they're actually not," said Luci Fernandes, ECU Anthropology Professor.
Starting March 25, the new licenses will go to illegal immigrants under age 30, who were brought to the United States as children and who are now high school graduates, attending college or who have served in the military.
It's all part of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that blocks deportation and grants them a two-year work permit.
Fernandes says the program is a step in the right direction, but the pink label is a step backwards.
"I think with that pink label, we run the risk of those people being treated differently. So it could have an immediate effect that people are being discriminated against just by showing their license. And I really don't think that's the direction that we want to go," said Fernandes.
But some Republican legislators, including Representative Mark Brody, argue there must be a clear distinction between legal and illegal residents.
And they want a moratorium.
"We, the General Assembly, would like a say in what this program looks like. This thing just got rammed down our throat so quickly. We were informed a week yesterday that this is what we're going to do. They didn't ask for suggestions, opinions, or permission," said Brody.
More than 15,000 people in our state have been accepted into this federal program.
An estimated 18,000 are eligible.
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