The licenses, described by one program participant as a modern day "scarlet letter," bear a bright pink stripe and the words "NO LAWFUL STATUS" -- a reference to the executive order President Barack Obama signed last year, blocking deportation and granting two-year work permits for many young illegal aliens brought to the United States by their parents.
In North Carolina, The (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer said 15,600 of the estimated 18,000 young people eligible under the Dream Act have applied for the licenses. One of them, Jose Rico, who graduated high school in 2008, told the newspaper the pink licenses are offensive.
"I do feel discriminated against," Rico said. "Now they have given us driver's licenses with a scarlet letter."
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended his decision to sign off on the pink licenses because he thought it important to distinguish "between legal presence versus legal status."