North Carolina to Offer ‘Scarlet Letter’ Pink Licenses

By Lacey Williams, Youth Programs Director

What Are Pink Licenses?

  • In August 2012, the Federal Government began granting Deferred Action to some undocumented young people in our state. Deferred Action gives some undocumented immigrants, brought here as children, a work permit and a reprieve from deportation.
  • Historically, immigrants with Deferred Action have been able to obtain North Carolina driver’s licenses.
  • The NC DMV has spent months deciding how to issue driver’s licenses to Deferred Action recipients, licenses it has historically issued with no problem, even halting issuing licenses and soliciting the opinion of the NC Attorney General.
  • After the Attorney General concluded that licenses should be given, the NC DMV rolled out a ‘pink’ license that displays the recipient’s immigration status.
  • The NC DMV admitted to the Winston-Salem Journal that it plans to issue similarly designed licenses for ALL non-citizens in North Carolina.

Why Are Pink Licenses Wrong for North Carolina?

Cost > North Carolina is in a financial crisis, yet the state government is spending untold amounts of taxpayer money on developing a new license, and the bureaucracy, trainings and materials needed to implement it.

Discrimination >  Licenses that look distinctly different and prominently display immigration status open the door to discrimination and are a violation of privacy. Does the grocery store cashier need to know someone’s immigration status when carding a person for beer?  Does the bank teller? The pink stripe on the top literally becomes a modern day ‘scarlet letter’ for immigrants.

Slippery slope > The DMV has justified distinct licenses by stating “you would know that someone who has the pink bar at the top, they do not have the right to vote.” Who else will be issued a pink license? Felons? Drivers under 18?

Us vs. Them > Immigrants have been obtaining licenses in North Carolina for a long time.  Deferred Action has been a tool of the immigration court long before Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  Making a distinction between immigrants and citizens on NC licenses creates an Us vs Them climate and it is nothing more than a political trick. We won’t fall for it.

What can you do?

Sign the petition telling Secretary of Transportation Anthony Tata that the pink drivers licenses are a modern-day scarlet letter for DACA-recipients and all non-citizens in North Carolina.

File a complaint with the Department of Transportation by calling (919) 707-2800 and let them know that pink licenses are the modern-day scarlet letter for all immigrants in our state.


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