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SD Among States Sharing ID Info With Feds

According to a published report, South Dakota officials signed their driver's license sharing agreement with the Census Bureau in April. (Adobe Stock)
According to a published report, South Dakota officials signed their driver's license sharing agreement with the Census Bureau in April. (Adobe Stock)
July 24, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota officials acknowledge they're working with the federal government in sharing driver's license information with the U.S. Census Bureau. The agreement has caught the attention of immigrant advocacy groups.

South Dakota and three other states have signed agreements with the Trump administration to submit driver's license and state identification data to the Census Bureau. It comes after the Supreme Court prevented the administration from including a citizenship question on the 2020 census form.

And it coincides with a new executive order to prohibit undocumented immigrants from being included in the counting data. Sandra Hernandez is a spokesperson for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

"The Supreme Court has long held that persons are persons under our Constitution," says Hernandez, "regardless of immigration status. "

Hernandez was quoting a statement issued by MALDEF's general counsel.

As for the license-sharing agreement first reported by National Public Radio, the state Department of Public Safety says it's authorized to share info with any government agency carrying out its function. It stresses that the effort is for statistical purposes and not meant for administrative enforcement.

Opponents of these practices fear it will be used to draw legislative maps that favor Republicans and non-Hispanics.

But groups such as MALDEF say while it might anger advocates, they don't think it will have much of an impact because only a handful of states are doing it, and because citizenship data isn't always reliable in motor vehicle agencies.

And Hernandez says they're confident the executive order on excluding certain immigrant data in the 2020 count will fail.

"The Trump administration's memorandum will be swiftly struck down by the federal courts," says Hernandez.

Nebraska, Iowa and South Carolina are other states that have agreed to share identification data with the bureau. Many other states have refused to do so.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - SD