immigrants to obtain a driving license. The writer examines several aspects of the issue and presents the opposing viewpoint. The writer details the reasons it is a good idea to issue licenses to immigrants. There were six sources used to complete this paper.
In recent years the topic of immigration has moved to the forefront of America's news. Immigrants entering the nation by the millions come seeking a better life. America is known worldwide as a melting pot and a place that opens its arms and heart to those who want to come. More recently however, there have been problems with exactly what to do when it comes to the many life issues that American residents face. One of those issues is the driver license. There have been heated debates about whether or not illegal immigrants should be allowed to obtain a driving license. Those who believe they should not, argue their point as hotly as those who believe they should argue theirs. While both sides have valid reasons for the way they feel, the bottom line is allowing immigrants to obtain driving licenses provides a way to track insurance, location, tax and other necessary data for those who live in America.
States across the nation are wrestling with the question about illegal immigrants and driver licenses. Recently the state of Tennessee opened the doors for illegal immigrants to obtain a driving license without requiring any documentation at all. This was quickly reversed when the public outcry became deafening and the driving test centers were so packed with immigrants that others could not get their business taken care of. Other states have also grappled with whether or not to allow immigrants to obtain such an important document without requiring that they first comply with immigration standard and law for being in this country. Judges in traffic courts are quick to remind offenders that driving is a privilege not a right. Those who are against illegal immigrants attaining a license feel that privilege should not be granted without legal compliance in other areas of immigrant status. Those who support the idea of immigrants getting their licenses believe it can only encourage the compliance in other life areas by allowing record keeping and other elements to take place.
In September 2004 the governor of California vetoed a bill that would have allowed immigrants to get a license. Until a decade ago that same state did allow it. The vicious circle and turmoil surrounding this issue continues as the immigrants stand by and wait.
"At present, at least 10 states, including Utah, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, do not require license applicants to prove legal residency in the United States (Gurfinkel, 2004)."
One of the most often cited reasons people support the idea of licensing immigrants is safety. A Utah representative summed it up when he introduced the bill that passed and allows immigrants to obtain a license in that state.
"They're not going to stop driving. They're driving anyway. And when they get a driver's license in Utah, at least they have to go through some kind of a course and can go down the highway without being totally reckless to the other citizens on the road (Norris, 2004)."
If one wants to research whether or not licensing immigrants is advantageous one only has to look at the statistical evidence thus far.
In Utah since the bill passed four years ago, there has been a 12% increase in consumer auto insurance. Experts attribute that to the immigrant license allowance which in turn allows them to purchase the auto insurance that they need.
In addition studies have shown that illegal immigrants have slowed in the fleeing the scene of accidents, and instead are choosing to stay and exchange information because they now have legal rights to drive.
"In neighboring California, more than two million illegal immigrants drive without a license, according to the Insurance Information Network, and in the inner cities, as many as 75% of drivers don't have insurance (Norris, 2004)."
It will be important to the future of the nation to allow immigrants to drive legally if the latest United States Census was correct when it discovered Hispanics will be the largest population in the nation in a few years (Kondracke, 2004).
By allowing immigrants to get driver licenses it will allow many record keeping things to be handled. Banks and other institutions demand a picture ID and often specifically a driving license. If the nation allows for the administration of driving licenses to immigrants it will provide a check and balance system for checking things such as residence, possibly tax or other payment issues, child support issues and legal elements to be handled.
Another positive aspect of allowing immigrants to get licensed is that it will provide an extra safeguard in the war on terrorism.
'Immigration reform has rocketed to the top of Congress's agenda, lawmakers said, partly on concerns that intelligence reforms approved Wednesday do little to prevent terrorists from illegally entering U.S. territory (Press, 2004).
US Senator John McCain was among the lawmakers who have raised the issue, saying any effort to safeguard America is incomplete unless U.S. borders are made less porous.
We can never assure the American people that they are safe from terrorists if our borders are penetrated as they are today by people who can come across illegally," McCain said on the Senate floor Wednesday. He had sought and failed to insert stricter language -- including better documentation and tighter border controls -- into the intelligence bill (Press, 2004)."
Better documentation would be possible with the computer checking of driving licenses.
Experts line up on both sides of the debate citing problems and benefits of the issue. According to some the driver license will allow terrorists to board planes or trains and put the nation in greater danger than ever before. Opponents argue that those who wish to board mass transit systems can do so by purchasing forged licenses so stopping immigrants from getting real ones will not make the nation any safer.
Everyone is not agreeable to the granting of licenses to illegal immigrants however. Stating the obvious, "they committed a crime to get into the nation" is the main objection to the idea. Those who do not want to allow illegal immigrants to drive legally cite the fact that the illegal immigrants committed a crime when they came into the nation without filing the proper documentation in the first place. Providing them the ability to drive legally, which is a privilege not a right here, is rewarding them for being criminals according to those who oppose the measure (Firestone, 2001).
While this is a true statement in and of itself, the fact remains that illegal immigrants are here, will continue to come here and will continue to work, live, play here. Not allowing them to drive legally prevents them from getting insurance, which means the nation is at risk for great financial loss over the next few years as more immigrants enter the country and drive without licenses (Firestone, 2001).
In 1997 in North Carolina there were almost half a million licenses issued to people who did not have social security numbers. This means before licenses were permitted there would be half a million people on the roads without insurance or proper identification of an accident occurred (Firestone, 2001).
In addition if illegal immigrants are able to obtain licenses they will buy more cars. This means more sales of autos, more sales tax revenue, more sales of tires, auto parts and mechanic repairs (Rodriquez, 2003).
There are several million illegal immigrants in this nation. For the most part they have come here to work and they work hard. Illegal immigrants are here to stay and keeping them unable to document…