Puerto Rico launches system to grant driver's licenses to migrants


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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico on Thursday unveiled a system that will allow migrants living illegally in the U.S. territory to obtain a temporary driver's license.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said he expects more than 100,000 migrants will apply for the license. He noted the majority of migrants in Puerto Rico are from the neighboring Dominican Republic.

"Everyone who lives in Puerto Rico will have their fundamental rights to dignity and freedom recognized," he said. "We are taking a stand today against discrimination."

Puerto Rico joins a handful of U.S. states in issuing such licenses.

The provisional driver's license would be issued only to those who have lived in Puerto Rico for a year and have either a passport or an embassy-issued document proving their identity. They would still have to pass the standard driving and traffic-rules tests.

The license is valid for three years and can be renewed for another three years, compared with six years for a regular license. The provisional license also features a different design and states it cannot be used as a form of identification or for any other purpose.

Garcia stressed that police officers cannot arrest those carrying the provisional license because of their status.

Puerto Rico previously approved measures prohibiting officials at schools and hospitals from asking people about their status.

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