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Immigration advocates call for driver's licenses for all

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Lucila Dominguez
Lucila Dominguez protests outside the state Capitol in St. Paul, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2014.
Sasha Aslanian | MPR News

Advocates for immigrants are renewing their push for driver's licenses for all, regardless of legal status.

Members of the "One State One License" coalition want all immigrants — even those who are in the country without authorization — to be able to take a driver's test and qualify for a license that won't be marked any differently.

State Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, told a crowd assembled on the Capitol steps that she's hopeful there will be Republican support.

"We may even let one of them be the author but they need to agree that they're going to make sure we have a driver's license with no exceptions — equal licenses for all," Clark said.

In 2003, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty barred the state from issuing driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Since then, several attempts to ease the state's restrictions on licenses have failed. 

But this year, immigration advocates are ready to try again. Speaking through an interpreter, organizer Julio Martinez urged a small crowd assembled outside the Capitol to raise their voices.

"This is about making sure folks know the rules of the road so our streets are safe," Martinez said. "We are productive people, we contribute greatly to Minnesota and we ask to be given the chance to learn driving rules, take the exam and obtain an unmarked Minnesota driver's license."

Editor's note (Jan. 8, 2014): The original version of this story included a photo caption that misidentified Lucila Dominguez. The story has been updated