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Dixie State Aids Immigrants (Fall 2019 Liberty Reporter)

A new fingerprinting service helps Washington County immigrants secure driving privilege cards.

In June, Dixie State University’s (DSU)campus police began offering fingerprinting services to immigrants seeking a Utah driving privilege card after the ACLU of Utah noticed the service was not offered anywhere in Washington County. Driving privilege cards (DPC) allow immigrants to maintain and operate a vehicle regardless of their legal status, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

ApplyDPCAt a time when immigration headlines are often discouraging and focused outside of Utah, this decision by the DSU Police Department to offer this simple but important service will benefit hundreds of immigrants living in Southern Utah. Prior to this change, Washington County residents had to travel to Cedar City, where the county sheriff’s fingerprinting facility had very limited hours, or drive 300 miles to a state office in Taylorsville. 

“When we realized there was a gap in fingerprinting services for residents of Washington County, we looked for local partners to fill it,” explained Sydni Makemo, the ACLU of Utah’s Southern Utah Community Outreach Coordinator. “We thought it was ironic that people had to drive hundreds of miles to acquire the fingerprint scans they need for a driving privilege card.” 

"We thought it was ironic that people had to drive hundreds of miles to acquire the fingerprint scans they need for a driving privilege card.”

-Sydni Makemo, Southern Utah Community Outreach Coordinator

Sydni began calling law enforcement agencies in Washington County to see if they could provide the fingerprinting required to apply for a DPC. After multiple rejections, Sydni received an enthusiastic “yes” from Dixie State, which happens to be where she attended college. “We said there is absolutely no reason for us not to provide this service,” DSU Police Chief Blair Barfuss told the St. George Spectrum. “We’re all about providing the resource to anyone at any time,” he added. The fingerprint scans cost $20 per person and can be used for multiple applications, including professional licenses. To acquire a DPC, immigrants must pass a vision test, complete a driver’s education course, and acquire car insurance. A 2006 state audit determined that holders of Utah DPCs insured their cars at similar rates as those who held a regular state driver’s license.

Last month, Chief Barfuss told Sydni that his department’s fingerprinting service is already extremely popular, with entire families taking advantage of it. When Barfuss mentioned that his office occasionally lacked a Spanish-speaking staff member, we suggested they inform applicants who are scheduling an appointment that they can bring their own translator if needed. To build on this success in St. George, the ACLU of Utah is currently working with the Moab Police Department to offer a similar fingerprinting service in southeastern Utah.

...from the Fall 2019 Liberty Reporter


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