Note: Although saying it is not an immigration issue (which we know it is) — the usually conservative Daily Bulletin is supporting driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Editorial: Safety, not immigration, is crux of driver’s license issue
Los Angeles News Group
Posted: 06/01/2013 02:31:52 PM PDT
Updated: 06/01/2013 02:32:54 PM PDT
The long debate about whether to allow people living in the United States illegally to apply for driver’s licenses is not about illegal immigration. It’s about the safety of our roads.
Thank goodness the California Assembly was able to separate the issues when a majority voted last week, with most Democrats in favor and most Republicans opposed, to advance a bill that expands undocumented immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses. Assembly Bill 60, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville, now goes to the Senate.
Confusion about the point of all this is rife. The headline above an online report about the Assembly action read: “Bill would give licenses to those in US illegally.”
No — licenses wouldn’t be given to undocumented immigrants any more than they’re given to U.S. citizens. Everybody must pass written and driving tests to earn licenses. This certifies you know the rules of the road and how to operate a vehicle, and means you can be identified after an accident.
The most important effect of allowing undocumented immigrants to go through this process is that more people who probably are driving cars and trucks anyway will be doing so safely, for the benefit of themselves, their passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.
The difference between licensed and unlicensed drivers is why it was news that the driver in the single-car crash that killed five teenagers in Newport Beach last week did not have a valid license.
Some opponents of the driver’s license bill argue that a license confers a sort of legal status on people who are in the United States illegally. Well, it has been said before, but it’s worth saying again: Foreigners being allowed to drive here doesn’t make them legal U.S. residents any more than Americans being allowed to drive in France makes them French.
There are many things undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be given, but the obligation to prove their fitness to use a vehicle isn’t one.
Last year, the state enacted a law allowing driver’s licenses to be issued to people who qualify for work permits under the new federal policy removing the legal limbo for those who were brought here illegally as kids.
That state law was a logical step, and the bill that advanced last week would produce another. Good for the Assembly for looking past the broader immigration debate and keeping its eyes on the road — a safer road.