SPRINGFIELD - Are there any valid arguments against states issuing drivers' licenses to immigrants living in Illinois who have entered skirting federal immigration laws? Illinois would become one of handful of states colored red in the map below with such a provision if it passes the Illinois General Assembly this week as expected.
Numbers USA, a national pro-legal immigration group responds to three myths immigration advocates cite in arguing for licenses:
Illegal-alien advocacy groups rely on the assertions below to justify the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Each appears reasonable on its face, but none holds up under scrutiny.r
Myth 1: Illegal aliens are going to drive no matter what so issuing them licenses will improve the safety of our roads by ensuring that they have passed a driving test and purchased automobile insurance.
In 2004, automobile accidents resulted in about 42,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries in the United States. The vast majority of the people involved in these accidents were licensed, insured drivers, so the correlation asserted by the advocates is tenuous at best. Moreover, most illegal aliens are low-wage workers who send a significant portion of their earnings to their home countries in the form of remittances. They have little incentive to spend their wages on car insurance, and even less incentive to wait for the police to arrive after an accident, since contact with law enforcement authorities could result in deportation. Finally, this suggestion that we just accept the inevitability of illegal aliens’ presence in the United States and treat them as lawful residents undermines our belief in law and fairness. No one would suggest that we not lock our doors because burglars are going to break in anyway.
Myth 2: Law enforcement officials will be better able to track illegal aliens if they are licensed, since their personal data will be entered into driver’s license databases.
This claim holds out the promise that law enforcement officials would actually use DMV data to locate and remove illegal aliens. Of course, the very same advocacy groups that use this argument would protest endlessly if such enforcement were proposed. More importantly, though, illegal aliens would not apply for licenses – and certainly would not provide their real names or addresses – if they knew the data would be used to track them. Many already use false names and/or addresses to obtain licenses, just as the 9/11 terrorists who obtained licenses in Virginia did.
Myth 3: DMV employees would have to become immigration experts in order to know which documents they can accept as proof of lawful presence.
It would, in fact, be burdensome if DMV employees had to know which immigration documents are legitimate and which are not. That is precisely why the federal government created the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system. SAVE is an automated system that allows state and local government officials to verify immigration documents. DMV employees would simply have to enter the document number and the name of the bearer into the computer and wait for an answer. Welfare agencies and certain employers have been using the SAVE system for years to verify immigration documents, so there is no reason DMV employees could not use it as well.
In response to the 9/11 attacks, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) acknowledged the importance of ensuring that state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards are accurate and can be relied upon as proof of the bearer’s identity. Betty Serian, Chairwoman of AAMVA’s Special Task Force on Identification Security, acknowledged that driver’s licenses are much more than just a license to drive. As the most widely a ccepted identity document, their reliability has a direct affect on homeland security: “When you can verify an individual’s identity you are one step closer to preventing fraud, protecting privacy and saving lives.”
In post-9/11 America, security is of the utmost importance. There is now a greater need for reliable identification to ensure that our planes, trains, buildings and communities are protected against terrorist threats. The issuance of state ID cards and driver’s licenses to illegal aliens undermines our safety. The 9/11 Commission addressed this issue squarely:
Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists. (Final Report, p. 390)