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Puerto Rico Moves Forward with Immigration Reform

Immigration reform has been a hot topic, with political leaders on both sides of the aisle speaking up for the need to make meaningful changes to U.S. immigration law. From the DREAM Act to proposals for stronger border control, solutions to the current concerns over immigration are being promoted in many public forums.

Now Governor Garcia-Padilla of Puerto Rico is moving forward with immigration reform in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Undocumented residents, largely from the Dominican Republic, will be issued driver’s licenses and be provided with health care and education services without requiring proof of U.S. citizenship.  Speaking at a commemoration ceremony for Luis Muñoz Marin, Garcia Padilla announced these plans.

Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States and not directly impacted by changes to immigration laws.  Concerns of fairness have been raised, however, about providing a path to full citizenship for undocumented aliens while continuing to deny Puerto Rican citizens of the United States the same full rights of citizenship (read more).

Seventeen states currently allow undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for the DREAM Act to hold driver’s licenses.  Early in the 20th century, there was a trend toward providing licenses to all residents regardless of documentation, but recently this practice has become controversial.  States are changing their rules in both directions. Illinois and Michigan join Puerto Rico in announcing current plans to issue licenses.

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