02 April 2014 ~ 4 Comments

Can An Undocumented Immigrant Travel to Hawaii?

Prerna Lal - HawaiiShort answer, yes, with a valid, unexpired government-issued ID, one can go to Hawaii and come back to the U.S.

Well, at least I did with my California state-issued ID.

(Results may differ for different people so proceed with caution or seek legal advice before you travel!)

How was Hawaii? It’s like any other tropical island–sunny golden beaches, deep blue-green lagoons, flavorful tropical fruits, and a panorama of beautiful views. At the same time, it has deep problems, homelessness and poverty, much like any other tropical island. It is critical to recognize that the island is occupied territory, much like Palestine. If you are from the South Pacific, Hawaii looks and feels like home–the humid weather on your skin, the tropical flora and fauna, and the red mud. It is no wonder that many of my South Pacific islander friends in the U.S. have chosen to make it home

Since I didn’t have a green card at the time of my visit, I received a trip to Hawaii as a trip, since it is the closest that I could get to going home. We stayed at the Aulani Disney Beach resort most of the time. I took a day to visit Waikiki, sampled Japanese and Chinese food on both sides of the island, climbed Diamond Crater, and spent a lot of time on the beach.

More beaches certainly lie in my future and not as a tourist.

  • Leslie

    Hi there, can you share how you were able to get a California state ID without a green card?

    • There are many ways to get a CA state ID without a green card. Anyone who has TPS, deferred action, DACA, any other kind of lawful presence or legal status in the U.S. or even a pending green card application, is usually eligible for government-issued ID. I’ve had lawful presence for a long time now.

      • Rose

        Hi there! What if the person only has a foreign passport (not eligible for a drivers license or other state ID)? I have heard that TSA will through the passport pages and ask for a visa to prove lawful presence in the US. Do you think it safe to travel just with a passport?

        • Moderator

          Different people have different experiences so i can’t really comment on that or give any sort of advice. I can only share my experience, which is that I traveled with a foreign passport for many years without getting in any sort of trouble. That doesn’t mean it is safe for others in similar situations, of course, and any sort of travel plan requires various contingency plans. I’d suggest seeing a lawyer for more advice, especially with regards to immigration questions and status, to see if anything can be done.

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