Driver licenses issued for young immigrants

Driver licenses issued for young immigrants

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by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 2:18 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Some undocumented immigrants in North Carolina are getting driver's licenses for the first time. 

The North Carolina DMV started issuing the licenses Monday to young people brought to the U.S. as children without legal authorization. 

Those who are eligible for the license are participating in a program called the Federal Deferred for Childhood arrivals program. 

NBC Charlotte caught up with Charlotte resident Maria Hernandez Monday as she was walked out of the Brookshire DMV with her license.

"It's just so wonderful.  I feel so much liberty right now.  It's just the most amazing thing.  And I'm 20," she said. 

Maria's parents brought her to the US from Ecuador when she was 8.  "I mean, I don't remember my own country.  This is my home." 

Her work is 15 minutes from home but, it can often take two hours when she's forced to use public transportation.  

According to Maria, "I have to walk an hour to the bus stop and then wait 30 minutes and then go to the transit and then take another bus and then be on the bus for an hour." 

She's been waiting for a visa since 2009 and hoping to have legal status soon.  Maria has a message for those critical of the new program. 

"You know we have pretty much the same, just because I'm from another country, doesn't mean that I don't have a right to have the same documents."

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