Friday, March 15, 2002

married to an alien?
I went to the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles today to renew my driver's license. It was a pretty pain-free experience. There were very few people in line ahead of me, and the line flowed very quickly.

I barely had time to read the signs that were a recent addition on the walls of the office, about proof of legal status within the United States. While I was interested, I didn't spend more than a few seconds reading about the change in gaining a driver's license if you originate from outside of the US. I didn't have time to.

I understand from a News Journal article from a few days ago, that the DMV had mandated a showing of additional forms of proof because Delaware had recently become the easiest place within the Mid-Atlantic states for someone to get a driver's license without proof of being with the country legally. This was because Virginia, the previous weakest link, had imposed requirements making it more difficult to get a license.

The newspaper said that the parking lots of Delaware's DMV's were being converged upon by vans full of people with license plates from outside of the State. After these groups of folks would enter, and receive licenses, they were exiting and giving each other high-fives. The impression the reporter was attempting to convey was that these were people who were taking advantage of Delaware's previously less than rigorous requirements for gaining a legal proof of identity in the form of a driver's license.

Whether that was true or not, I saw no such spectacle today.

A new law proposed by Delaware's legislature seeks to address the possibility that people will take advantage of Delaware's laws regarding marriage licenses to gain the appearance of legal residence through a loophole. Presently, there is no need to show proof that you are in the country legally when you apply for a marriage license. A bill being reviewed in Dover would change this.

New Castle County's Clerk of Peace Ken Boulden has stated that ten percent of the marriages he performs each year involve people who could not show proof of being in the US legally. His fear is that people could then try to use that marriage license as proof that they are in the country legally, in other states.

The driver's license requirement is a policy that the DMV has imposed, and is not yet backed by a law from the legislature, though they are reviewing it in Dover, also.

Should people who are in the country illegally be allowed to marry here? Should they be allowed to get driver's licenses? That's questionable. But what they shouldn't be allowed to do is to show a driver's license or a wedding license to someone from another state, and use those documents as proof that they are in the country legally when they are not.

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