Certified translators tout their services for driver authorization cards

Certified translators and bilingual residents clashed Wednesday at a DMV public workshop held to develop rules for the new driver authorization cards that are expected to be issued to an estimated 60,000 people who live in Nevada illegally.

Certified translators urged Department of Motor Vehicles officials to mandate that all documents needed for the cards, from proof of residency to birth certificates to tax records, be translated by a certified translator.

Those opposed said certified translation was unnecessary because it would create a financial burden on applicants, some of whom are bilingual and could translate their own documents.

In some cases, the certified translations would cost up to $100 for each applicant, depending on the volume of documents, which keeps expanding as the DMV finds itself in the midst of drafting the regulations.

This subject dominated the workshop at the Sawyer Building. Other Nevadans testified from Carson City and Elko via videoconference.

“This is our profession, this is not a hobby,” said Judy Jenner of Twins Translations in addressing DMV representatives, insisting that myriad documents should be handled by an experienced and certified translator.

But Harold Giron, who comes into contact with plenty of bilingual drivers while teaching them how to drive at the Giron Driving School in Las Vegas, begged to differ.

“Proof of certified translation would be a financial burden to the families who are already having problems,” said Giron.

The DMV will now weigh the suggestions and make decisions in the coming weeks before the regulations are sent to the Legislative Counsel Bureau, one of the final steps before the law takes effect on Jan. 1.

Suggestions from the public included accepting gym and church memberships as proof of Nevada residency along with at least a dozen others, which range from motel receipts of up to 30 days, college enrollment papers and ID photos, tax records, bank statements and letters from property owners who can vouch for rent payments.

Nevada is one of just a few states — behind Washington state, Utah and New Mexico — that have decided to issue the driver cards to deal with what it sees is an ever growing problem of immigrants illegally getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, many to perform such everyday tasks of taking their children to school and getting to work.

While critics say the driver authorization card is nothing but a political stunt to woo more Latino voters for the Democratic Party, the proposal drew many Republican supporters when it passed the state Legislature in the spring.

Supporters wanted police to be able to properly identify motorists even if they’re not U.S. citizens.

But under the law, the driver authorization card cannot be accepted as a form of ID, a fact that will be clearly printed on the front of the cards.

Nevada roads will be safer because all applicants will have to take written tests and pass the driving test, something many have never done before because they were never afforded the opportunity, supporters said.

Velvet Molina, 35, a Guatemalan immigrant living in Las Vegas for the past decade and a half, said she’s happy that she will now get the opportunity to drive legally.

“It’s good to have a permit to drive to the market. Right now, we can’t drive but we need to, and we have to,” she said at the meeting.

As it is, Molina said every time she gets behind the wheel she’s afraid police are going to pull her over.

“This will make me feel a lot better,” she said. “The worse part about not being able to drive is if you’re in an accident, and you don’t have insurance. You can’t even prove who’s at fault. It’s automatically your fault.”

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at tragan@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.