Illegal Immigrants and Driver's licenses.(EDITORIALS)

Article excerpt


Some lawmakers in California want to allow illegal aliens, mostly undocumented workers from Mexico, to obtain driver's licenses on the theory that this will improve road safety. "It's good public policy," argues Democratic State Assembly member Gil Cedillo. "When you're involved in an auto accident, nobody is going to ask for your immigration status. They want to see your driver's license and insurance." Mr. Cedillo is the sponsor of the legislation, and Gov. Gray Davis, who previously indicated he would veto the measure, is being pressured to approve it.

But there are multiple problems with the idea of allowing people who are not lawfully entitled to be in this country to obtain driver's licenses. The first and most obvious is that they are, well, not lawfully entitled to be in the United States to begin with. It would be a mistake to embrace the idea that once you're in this country - no matter how you got here - you'll be exempted from the legal requirements to which other immigrants (to say nothing of citizens) are subject. That would be an affront to the millions of immigrants who dutifully obeyed the law and would set the stage for absolute chaos, as uncounted millions of individuals in Mexico and elsewhere saw the proverbial green light and made tracks for the border.

Further, the granting of driver's licenses would implicitly confer upon illegal aliens a sort of quasi-citizenship and exacerbate the problems involved in deporting those who broke the law, came here illegally, and who have no business being in the United States. Illegal aliens do not have Social Security cards - at least not legitimate ones. Granting them driver's licenses only makes it easier for them to take from the system, but not to live up to their end of the citizenship bargain. With a valid driver's license, it is much easier to secure employment, obtain government welfare-state benefits, and so on. …