But it's not why you think. It's actually legal for undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license in Washington. However, according to licensing officials, the state canceled Vargas' driver's license because he couln't prove that he lived in the state when he obtained it, as required by law:
Washington is alone with New Mexico in granting full driver's licenses to people in the country illegally. Utah issues them only for driving, not for ID purposes. Oregon changed its laws three years ago.This apparently isn't uncommon within Washington's Department of Licensing. And Jose had to know that this was going to happen -- a privelege lost, along with all the other scrutiny that would come with his announcement. For now then, according to his blog, this Pulitzer Prize-winner could use a lift: Would You Give Me a Ride?
Washington law requires that those who have a Social Security number provide it when they apply for a license but allows those who don't to sign a declaration to that effect. The law does, however, require applicants to live in the state of Washington.
After noticing a surge in out-of-state applicants without Social Security numbers, Department of Licensing officials in November began requiring proof of state residency from any applicant who lacked a Social Security number. Vargas' application never warranted scrutiny because the Social Security number he presented was valid. His grandfather had obtained it for him from the Social Security Administration when he'd first arrived in the U.S.
But the card itself had clearly stated: "Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization," which means it couldn't be used for employment. Vargas said when he began looking for work, he and his grandfather doctored it to cover up the restriction.
State licensing officials launched an investigation after Vargas' article appeared in the magazine June 22.