San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Puerto Rico House of Representatives has approved granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and the island's Senate is expected to follow suit.
The president of the Integracion Dominicana organization, Rolando Acosta, told Efe on Thursday that at least 10,000 Dominicans will benefit from the measure, which he called "historic."
Calculations are that the Dominican community in Puerto Rico is much larger than the official figures reflect and could number as many as 200,000.
"The new regulation will allow many thousands of Dominicans to come out of the shadows and not be subject to abuses," said Acosta after thanking Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, who had pushed for the measure that he had characterized as "social justice."
Acosta emphasized that many undocumented Dominicans to date have seen themselves forced to keep their savings at their homes because they have been denied any kind of local legal identification, a situation that prevented them from opening bank accounts.
The licenses to which immigrants will now have access will be available to people who have lived in Puerto Rico for at least a year.
The requirements for getting a temporary driver's license include having a valid passport from one's country of citizenship or an up-to-date consular identity document.
In Puerto Rico - which has 3.72 million residents, according to recent Census data - there are 68,000 Dominicans who have U.S. citizenship.