Iowa DOT will share state’s driver’s license and ID records to help the federal government determine citizenship of people in Iowa


Iowa is one of four states that has agreed to share Iowa residents’ state’s driver’s license and ID records with the US Census Bureau. 

NPR reported that as of April 1, the Iowa Department of Transportation has been sharing the data with the federal agency under the directive from the current administration that is supposed to help to determine the citizenship status of everyone residing in the country. According to the agreement signed on March 4 by Melissa Spiegel, director of the Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division, records that are filed between 2019 and 2024 will be provided to the federal agency. Per this agreement, the state will provide each person’s driver’s license or identification card, number name address, and date of birth. The data Iowa shares are more restrictive than the other three states, but the state will share it for a longer period of time than others. Iowa did not agree to share sex, race, eye color, citizenship status, or the date of issuance. 


The spokesperson for Iowa DOT said that they do not share citizenship information or immigration status because according to Iowa law the state does not issue driver’s license or ID cards to those who do not provide legal documentation to prove they are legally authorized to live and work in the US. 

The point of this agreement is said to figure out the number of citizens and non-citizens in the country. It is believed that the current administration is trying to get the data in each census block that later could be used for restricting. This information sharing could create miscalculation and inaccuracies because Iowa licenses renewed every two to eight years at the time of sharing a person can be non-citizen and receive citizenship later but be miscategorized. 


“This scheme is motivated by an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose to instill fear and take power away from communities of color – especially immigrants. In the midst of this pandemic the Census Bureau should instead focus on ensuring a full and accurate count during this challenging time” Nicholas Salazar, LULAC Iowa State director commented.

Although Iowa DOT assures that the Iowa Code permits the release of the driver’s license records to government agencies, it is confidential and will not be shared with the public. Many civil rights and immigration advocates are concerned that this data will be used for future policymaking. The ACLU of Iowa is calling for Iowa to cancel this agreement with the Census Bureau. 

The other four states that are sharing to date with a federal agency are South Dakota, South Carolina, and Nebraska. Nebraska shares all the information, but South Dakota and South Carolina share a combination of some. 

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