Supporters for licenses and IDs for undocumented immigrants gather in Tampa

July 15, 2014 

Supporters for licenses and permits for undocumented immigrants gather in Tampa. (Photo: Paul Mueller, Bay News 9)

TAMPA -- A local activist group is stepping up its efforts so undocumented immigrants can get drivers licenses and identification cards.

So far, the group, Raices en Tampa, said at least 10 states have issued licenses and permits, as well as the District of Columbia.

Now, it wants the City of Tampa to stand behind them and for Mayor Bob Buckhorn to sign the group’s resolution.

"I work,” said Alicia Argenal, who immigrated to this country from Honduras in 1998. “I go to school. I pay my taxes."

Agenal considers herself to be one of the lucky ones considering she has a temporary drivers license unlike countless other undocumented immigrants who have no identification and drive illegally.

"You get that fear and imagine you driving without a license, and you're driving your kids to school," said Argenal.

It’s that fear that prompts petition drives put on by Raices en Tampa’s on Monday night.

"It would make their life a lot easier," said Marisol Marquez of Raices en Tampa.

Marquez said the immigration system is too harsh especially, she said, for those who have proven that they belong in this country.

“You would have to prove you're paying your electric bill,” said Marquez. “You've been living and going to school in a certain area. So it isn't just anyone. And also you have your documentation from your country."

Florida is home to around two million undocumented immigrants and if Marquez gets her way, Florida would become the next state to implement these changes.

“You know how important it is to have an ID,” said Marquez. “Almost everywhere you get asked. Opening a bank account, going to a school."

We asked Argenal why she hasn't applied for citizenship after being in the US for so long. She told us there's too much red tape and she doesn't have the money.

When we asked her if she thought she was asking for something special or something more, she said, “No.”

"I don't think we're asking for something special, immigrants are asking for something special,” she said. “I mean this country is built from immigrants, right?"

If this resolution does gain momentum, it could wind up in the state legislature. It would be up to the Governor to make the final decision.

Critics call this a threat to public safety and say it runs counter to the federal government beefing up border security.

Meantime, the U.S. has stepped up its crackdown on illegal immigration.

The first group deported under the stepped up efforts arrived in Honduras today.

About 40 adults and children left the US on a chartered flight.

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