Driver's License to Illegal Immigrants Term Paper

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Proponents advanced that both legal and illegal immigration to California was a concrete and hard reality, which neither legislation nor strict controls could blot out. They envisioned a menial, lowly paid workforce, a source of cheap labor, on which the State would depend. They also held that opponents were racially motivated and too harsh towards non-whites who wanted to flee from poverty and despair. On the other hand, those who opposed illegal immigration blamed it for the country's shortage of social services, which illegal immigrants shared with citizens. These opponents argued that providing healthcare and welfare to these illegal immigrants necessarily infringed the law and made illegal behavior acceptable and legitimate. They denied that their support for legislations, such as Proposition 189, was racially motivated (IGS).

More Arguments for and Against the same vigor and frustration characterized the struggle for driver's licenses in Illinois but which failed to get the vote in the House (McKinney 2004). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo, needed 60 votes but got only 43. It was voted against by 74 others. The bill was a modification of the last, which failed to get the vote in the Senate. It would have enabled undocumented immigrants to secure the licenses if they also purchased auto insurance, submitted their fingerprints and agreed to surrender previous driver's licenses in their possession. Acevedo emphasized that his bill would assure that how those who are already driving could know the rules of the road and, therefore, drive safely. It would encourage and oblige them to learn those rules. Their opponents, however, disputed that special privileges should not be allowed or afforded to violators of immigration laws. Davis described the bill as "un-American" and expressed apprehension that felony charges could be filed in an effort at linking an offender to other crimes. He also noted Hispanic lawmakers' lack of sympathy towards the Blacks' concern over this matter as well as other crime bills (McKinney). On the other hand, supporters of immigrant rights, labor unions and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton suggested that the grant of driver's licenses would lead more motorists to take the State driving test and become insured (Wasserman 2003). Opponents insisted that a driver's license would reward illegal immigrants for breaking the law and could bring in more terrorist to the United States. There were 37 States, which required proof of legal residence as a condition to the grant of a driver's license. Among these States were Arizona, Colorado, Texas, New York, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, according to the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles. On the other hand, 13 States did not require it. Among these besides California were Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah (Wasserman).

ITIN Issue and Other Issues in Kansas

Kansas had its own set of events. Executive Director Elias Garcia of the Kansas Advisory Committee on Hispanic Affairs perceived resistance to the passage of House Bill 2039 for the grant of temporary driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants (Adamson 2004). Like Senator Cedillo's bill, it too faced difficulties in getting the House vote. Garcia felt that senators would not favor it on account of the public sentiment against immigrants and terrorism following the New York bombings. He explained that the temporary license would not be like a regular driver's license, issued to U.S. citizens living in Kansas. It would simply certify that its holder or owner knew Kansas driving laws but that it could not be used for identification purposes. One problem the bill was to confront was the prohibition by the Internal Revenue Service to using personal tax numbers for identification. Proof of residence was a standard requirement for a driver's license in Kansas. HB 2039 was sponsored by Rep. Tom Kline, Democrat of Wichita. It allowed the owner to use it to show an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN, until the IRS issued the prohibition on December 17, 2004. The IRS clarified that it issued personal tax numbers so that all people working in the United States could pay taxes. It emphasized that it would accept fewer documents as proof of identity in issuing ITIN. It also said it would change the appearance of the ITIN card to distinguish it from a social security card. Senator John Vratil, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he would file for a reconsideration of HB 2039. Rep. Ward Loyd, Republican of Garden City, favored the bill and found it a rather simple issue. He did not see it as condoning illegal immigration, although he admitted that undocumented workers could keep on entering Kansa to look for work. He said that a traditional driver's license was different from a personal identification. The bill simply allowed the holder to drive on State roads. On the other hand, Emira Palacios, a leader of Hispanic activists, said that the bill would promote safe driving in all of Kansas and that its senators were expected to think and decide for the good of Kansas. She referred to a similar bill, which was passed in New Mexico, as basis for convincing Kansas senators of the benefits of the particular bill. The New Mexico bill had the support of law enforcement sectors and was endorsed by Governor Bill Richardson. Executive Director Garcia expressed hope that documented and undocumented immigrants in the Iraq war would influence legislators that immigrants were contributors to the economy of the United States. He said that denying licenses to undocumented immigrants would affect everyone else on Kansas roads. They would be unable to obtain insurance coverage yet could figure in vehicular accidents (Adamson).

Group Lobbies for Immigrant Rights in Kansas

Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius told Hispanic activists that she would support the legislation, which would allow undocumented immigrants to secure drivers' licenses (McLean 2003). This was to fulfill her campaign promise to meet with them. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Klein, Republican of Wichita, would do so after the applicants passed the required tests. Other States conducted similar measures, but Kansas lawmakers refused to take swift actions. Governor Sebelius said that the passage of Rep. Klein's legislation would need more than her support. It needed the support of both parties, according to her. The Hispanics said that Rep. Ward Lloyd supported the bill.. Rep. Lloyd was an influential member of the Judiciary Committee. On the other hand, federal immigration officials and chiefs of the Kansas Motor Vehicles and spokesman Rick Oltman of the Federal for American Immigration Reform opposed earlier legislations of a similar kind. They said that the promotional slant of public safety and insurance was misleading, because the real goal of the support for valid State documents for illegal immigrants was amnesty. Hispanics claimed that undocumented workers made key contribution to the State's economy and thus deserved to be granted the right or opportunity to drive legally and safely. Record showed that there were roughly 150,000 undocumented illegal immigrants residing in Kansas (McLean).

Driving Permit for Utah Immigrants

It was a different story for Utah. Senate Bill 227 got all 21 Republicans to vote for it and all 8 Democrats against it (Bulkeley 2005). It would replace the drivers' licenses of illegal immigrants whose driving permits could not be used for identification purposes. Its sponsor, Senator Curt Bramble, Republican from Provo, first kept the legislation on hold when he realized he did not have the sufficient number of votes for it. He and his supporters wanted it to take effect immediately. It would produce a driving privilege card for those who did not qualify for a Social Security number. At that time, illegal immigrants could obtain a driver's license by presenting a tax identification number or ITIN, issued by the IRS. Rep. Curt Oda, Republican from Clearfield, amended an unrelated bill to make it compatible with Senate Bill 227 by Senator Bramble. This unrelated bill was filed with the Senate Judiciary Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee. Senator Oda's House Bill 223 was unanimously voted by the Senate. Senator Oda said that his bill would produce a "third class of drivers," consisting of foreigners who were then ineligible to work. At that time, only those with a Social Security number of ITIN could obtain a Utah driver's license. Those who got licenses under HB 223 could use these as their "driving privilege cards" as illegal immigrants. The card would be valid for a year for illegal immigrants and five years for legal residents or until the expiry of their visas. Senator Oda added that his bill would also benefit student visa holders and Olympic trainees in Utah. Senator Bramble commented that his bill would establish standards for driver's licenses if it passed. He said that his bill derived from a state audit, which revealed that Utah was a destination for illegal immigrants from other States for their licenses. He also pared down the issue on racial profiling, alluded to in his bill. He said that a policeman could not…

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