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Try reasonable middle way to license illegal immigrants

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on May 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm with 6 Comments »
May 25, 2012 6:28 pm

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

One issue that has arisen in the state gubernatorial race is whether people seeking driver’s licenses should have to prove legal residency. Washington is one of only two states – New Mexico is the other – that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain unrestricted driver’s licenses – ones that can be used for personal identification purposes.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, wants applicants to show Social Security documentation in order to be licensed to drive. His opponent, Democrat Jay Inslee, isn’t ready to go there.

Inslee is right – to a point. Requiring Social Security documentation might be going too far, but that doesn’t mean the state shouldn’t tighten up its requirements.

Washington’s lax standards can be a welcome beacon to illegal immigrants to come here for a driver’s license – which then can be used in other states to obtain documentation they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.

The alternative – denying driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants – is not a good idea from a public safety standpoint. Society has a stake in drivers being able to pass a test and show a license if they are pulled over or are involved in an accident. Drivers without a license are more likely to flee the scene.

Washington lawmakers concerned about illegal immigrants using their state driver’s licenses for sketchy identification purposes should consider the path Utah has taken. There, undocumented immigrants can obtain a Driving Privilege Card after showing a foreign birth certificate or passport; a completed fingerprint card and photograph; and one of several other forms of identification, such as a foreign driver’s license, insurance ID card or Mexican voter registration card.

The Driving Privilege Card looks noticeably different than the standard driver’s license and cannot be used for identification purposes beyond demonstrating that the holder is licensed to drive.

An advantage to Utah’s plan is that 70 percent to 75 percent of Driving Privilege Card holders purchase automobile insurance, said Salt Lake City immigration attorney Mark Alvarez. An effort earlier this year to get rid of the card was unsuccessful.

It’s not easy for an illegal immigrant to get licensed to drive in Utah, but it’s not impossible – which means it’s not the kind of magnet state Washington has become. That’s a reasonable, middle path lawmakers should consider.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. texasguy says:

    Let’s follow this one, You are a Illegal Alien who for some reason is in a country (USA) illegally, and could be deported for obvious reasons. You want to be able to drive so you can go to the job you are illegally involved with from the employer who has broken the law by hiring you…..
    Does anyone even think that there is a remote chance that any Illegal Alien would even risk the chance to have their location known to government authorities by getting a drivers license? Really, this is such a total waste of time and our tax dollars. How about just enforcing our current laws, and punishing employers who are hiring these people with jail time!
    If you think giving illegal Aliens permission to drive in any state in this country, then how about licensing drug dealers, thief’s, car jackers or any other criminal.

  2. Dave98373 says:

    “Driving Privilege card?” Really? Isn’t driving a “privilege” for everybody? Stop the political correctness nonsense and let’s start enforcing reasonable laws that enable law abiding immigrants to further their path to citizenship. If one is not in the country legally, why should we change the law to fit their crime?

  3. thenewstribune52 says:

    Washington State’s new motto: Don’t go to Mexico, let mexicans come to you.

  4. tree_guy says:

    Can people living illegally in Mexico get Mexican driver’s licenses?

  5. “Try reasonable middle way”. If the headline doesn’t explain to you how left of center this newspaper is when you read their definition of “middle way” you can’t be helped. As noted, we are one of 2 states that allow drivers licenses without proof of legal residency. It’s nuts to allow this! We are a beacon for illegal immigration and the additional crimes it brings to a community.

  6. pendrini says:

    In harmony with the history of our country, and the personal family history of all of us non-native americans, we need to remember to be open and encouraging of immigration to the USA. If the law in place helps immigrants and their families to ultimately become citizens, then we must keep the law the way it is. If they can pass the test, we must allow immigrants to obtain drivers licences, citizens or not.

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