Georgia's Senate defeated an amendment brought by Republican Senator Josh McKoon that would bar all undocumented immigrants in the state from attaining a driving licence. The proposal, which was rejected 27-16 on 31 March, would have included immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the floor amendment targeted undocumented immigrants who have received "deferred action" on their legal status through President Barack Obama's executive order.
The order, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allows undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to obtain a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
Through Senate Bill 6, McKoon argued those granted "deferred action" were not in the country legally and therefore could not qualify for a driving licence. The act aimed to "provide that persons who possess a lawful alien status are the only category of non-citizen who may obtain a licence, permit, or card".
Several Democratic senators spoke against the measure, saying it targeted those who had not come to the US wilfully and were contributing to the state by working or going to school and by paying taxes.
"This is going after college students... [and] members of the military who are not here because of any action of their own," Senator Curt Thompson said.
Fellow Democrat Senator Nan Orrock added business leaders in the state are against denying driving licences to the children of undocumented immigrants. "International corporations who have their North American headquarters here feel this is very ill-advised legislation," she said, according to the Chronicle.
Senators in Georgia have been adamant about passing any controversial bills relating to undocumented immigrants, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Orrock's Senate Bill 44, which made immigrants with deferred action eligible to pay in-state university tuition rates, did not make it out of the Senate Higher Education Committee in early March.
Several states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driving licence, with Nebraska being the only state to deny them to participants of DACA.