Problems with driver’s licenses helped send a former Illinois governor to prison. Illinoisans tend to be pretty jaded about this sort of thing. A governor going to prison scarcely raises an eyebrow. Neither do bad decisions from public officials. When they whip themselves up to do something foolish, it has to be really over the top to merit attention, like giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Illinois is home to one of the nation’s largest sanctuary cities, so the illegal immigrant driver’s license idea is no big surprise. When legislators concocted the Illinois Dream Act, an early draft included a provision to allow beneficiaries to drive. With a supermajority of fools in Springfield on track to make more bad decisions than ever, what better time than now to legislate putting illegal immigrants on the highways?
Illinois is not special. California boasts a few sanctuary cities of its own and plans to put up to 450,000 illegal immigrants on its roads.¹ This is probably a better deal for illegals in California than in Illinois. If they cause a serious accident or kill someone, the border is a whole lot closer.
Having given up trying to find good reasons to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, here are five really bad reasons that politicians will, no doubt, rush to embrace.
Bad Reason 1: Sanctuary cities need the tax dollars.
If we allow illegal immigrants to stay, they need to work. California’s law applies to lucky DACA winners, but given the financial problems the state shares with Illinois, this could turn out to be one of those foot in the door bills.
Sanctuary cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco need tax dollars and tax dollars don’t care where they come from. If you are illegal and can drive, you stand a better chance of finding work and paying state and federal taxes thanks to that phony Social Security number you bought and forgot to mention when you applied for your driver’s license. No wonder broke Illinois wants its illegals to drive. At least the state plans to make sure the licenses can’t be used as proof of identity, which shouldn’t pose a problem. Illegal immigrants have other documents for that.
Bad Reason 2: Illegal immigrants who want to drive should be insured.
Sure. And if they want to work, they should apply for citizenship or a green card and get a valid Social Security number.
If I were an illegal immigrant, here’s what I would do. I would get a driver’s license with my phony ID, buy an insurance policy, pay one month, and never pay again. Since I never complied with any other laws, why bother with auto insurance? If someone gets hurt, I can always go back home.
Bad Reason 3: States should have the flexibility to make their own pro-illegal immigration laws.
When it comes to immigration status, the federal don’t ask policy only applies to laws that infringe on illegal immigrants. To be safe from the Department of Justice, states wishing to take immigration law into their own hands need to remember one thing: they need to make life better for illegal immigrants. Just ask Alabama and South Carolina what happened when they erred on the side of enforcement.
Bad Reason 4: Washington will like us if we do this.
Democratic Washington may smile on state initiatives to keep the illegal immigrant population happy, but there are still a few responsible voices taking the side of American citizens.
How bad do things have to be for a member of Congress to propose a bill that would cut federal funds to his own state? Representative Duncan Hunter proposed H.R. 6465 to do citizens in all states a favor by cutting funds from the Community Oriented Policing Services Program to states that follow California’s lead and issue driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. Hunter argues that:
The only way California will begin abiding by the law—whether on this or any other immigration-related issue—is if there are direct consequences for implementing and defending sanctuary policies.”²
A responsible congressman in California? The state never fails to surprise.
Bad Reason 5: Latino voters will vote for us if we do this.
Latino voters are citizens or they shouldn’t be voting. If their loyalties lie across some other country’s border, what does that say about politicians who are falling over themselves to keep Latinos happy?
UPDATE May 21, 2016:
Illinois just came up with another reason not to give driver’s licenses to illegals, this time in the form of a motor voter law passed by the state senate last week.
The big question is how motivated local election boards will be in parts of Chicago with large illegal immigrant populations to screen out those who shouldn’t be voting. That won’t happen, you say? Of course not. Dead people can’t vote, either.
UPDATE March 31, 2017:
Bad Reason 6: Illegals with a DUI conviction should keep driving.
I was shocked to find out that there is nothing to prohibit an illegal immigrant with a DUI conviction from getting a TVDL, a temporary driver’s license in Illinois. According to the Secretary of State’s TVDL brochure, an “administrative hearing to seek reinstatement”3 is required, but there is no mention of a ban on securing a license.
Since driving under the influence is one of the crimes on Homeland Security’s Declined Detainer Report and Chicago is a sanctuary city, we should have assumed that there would be a workaround. The good news is that DUI is one of the least serious crimes on DHS’ monthly report. The bad news is that undocumented immigrants convicted of more serious offenses can walk the streets.
UPDATE April 27, 2018:
Bad Reason 7: breaking the law doesn’t matter
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that for Fiscal Year 2017 8,170 detainers were refused by local law enforcement.4 That means illegal immigrants are released into the community instead of being handed over to federal authorities.
Don’t ask, don’t tell is a hazy area when it comes to drivers licenses for the undocumented. 62,517 ICE arrests in 2017 were for immigration law violations, but states like Illinois assure applicants that immigration status is not taken into account when they apply for their TVDL. Now that Illinois is also a sanctuary state thanks to the TRUST Act, will it be handing over applicants because they violated federal law?
UPDATE: January 27, 2019
Bad Reason 8: driver’s licenses and voting go hand in hand
It must have been one of those very bad “aha” moments when the numbers were checked, rechecked, and Texas officialdom realized they had a problem with their voter registration rolls.
95,000 problems to be exact, as Townhall5 and practically every news agency in the nation just finished reporting.
The news came after a recent suggestion from a Democratic state representative reported by Spectrum News Austin that applying for a driver’s license should automatically register you to vote.6
Texas doesn’t issue driver’s licenses to illegals.
We also have online voter registration.
That seems like a bad thing to have in a state where sanctuary-loving Democrats run the show, something Texas is lucky to not have to submit to, or at least not yet.
The good news is that we won’t have that kind of “aha” moment over bad voter registrations in Illinois. We are too fond of our illegals to not look the other way and give them that voice in our affairs that Democrats no doubt believe they richly deserve.
UPDATE April 12, 2019:
Bad Reason 9: illegals are protected by the law, victims are not
ICE chose National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to issue its VOICE Most Wanted fugitives list yesterday. In contrast to the noble migrant myth endorsed by Democrats, the examples in ICE’s announcement are a sad testament to the damage done to real people by real illegals.
Kicking off the most wanted list is a case of vehicular homicide in Cook County, Illinois by an illegal immigrant whose ICE detainer was ignored. This is what happens when liberal policies protect illegals from the law. States that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and refuse to work with federal authorities signal their willingness to tolerate these kinds of crimes.
Democrats across the nation and on Capitol Hill place political demands over public safety. The crisis at the Southern Border speaks to their success. So do the tragic examples on ICE’s victims list.
Update May 6, 2019:
Bad Reason 10: other states are doing it
States appear ready to fall like dominoes to illegal immigrant demands for more opportunity.
Think Progress reported on a May Day demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin in favor of granting driver’s licenses to illegals. According to the article this would extend the right to drive to 32,000 undocumented immigrants.7
New York will likely beat Wisconsin to it. The Buffalo News reported yesterday about the effort in a state where at least 200,000 will benefit from proposed legislation to allow them to legally get behind the wheel.8.
Michigan is also stepping up to the activist call according to the Detroit Free Press in an article that notes how not having a valid driver’s license puts immigrants in the hands of law enforcement.9
That’s because driving with a license is illegal, of course. So is living in the U.S. with no evidence of legal entry.
One state at a time is an easy, effective strategy that works for nationwide illegal immigrant driver’s licenses just as well as it works for marijuana legalization and other types of permissive liberal legislation.
The good news is that when this becomes a 50-state entitlement we’ll be able to see some good, hard numbers on financial responsibility after accidents. If we don’t like what we see, then we’ll need to pass even more laws to cover up those numbers and extend further protections for those who knowingly break federal law by living and working here.
UPDATE June 23, 2019:
Bad Reason 11: illegals can use a driver’s license to escape ICE
Until yesterday jumping in the car and driving away as fast as possible from Chicago, Los Angeles, or any other big city that fell under the watchful eye of the Trump administration last week seemed like the best way to keep out of the clutches of ICE.
As of yesterday, it doesn’t matter for fourteen more days. A planned mass ICE sweep was called off.
In the meantime consider this scenario. ICE is after you. You get in the car and get out of town. Local police pull you over before you hit the city limits, but lucky you! You live in a sanctuary city so you can accept your ticket with thanks and keep on driving, the faster the better.
UPDATE July 3, 2019:
Bad Reason 12: it helps illegal immigrants get to Fourth of July celebrations
The last time I went to a fireworks show what really stood out was how many people didn’t speak English. I heard Spanish. I heard Eastern European and Asian and Indian languages I couldn’t identify because I don’t speak them, but that’s hardly the point. These people value the commemoration of our country’s freedom and want to be here.
Who knows how many of the people I bumped elbows with in that crowded park were here legally and how many were not? Certainly those who are not take great risks to come to the U.S. and if we believe the press, live in fear worrying about being picked up and deported. They still deem it worth the dangers. As much as I oppose illegal immigration I have to appreciate that.
If only our own people and Democratic politicians valued this country as much not for what they can turn it into, but for what it is and who we are. Instead of taking pride in what we have they believe that tearing America apart is a necessary next step. That’s a sad thing to contemplate the day before the Fourth of July .
Why is this a bad reason to give driver’s licenses to illegals? Because it makes many of us look really, really bad.
UPDATE July 30, 2019:
Bad Reason 13: illegals deserve immunity from fear for breaking the law
In an April 8, 2019 letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the majority leaders of the New York State Assembly and Senate, self-admitted former undocumented immigrant and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) argues for handing out driver’s licenses to illegals. Safety is paramount. Espaillat reasons that handing out licenses will make for safer roads
in part because illegals won’t flee the scene of an accident:
Other experts have also pointed out that changing this policy would reduce the number of hit-and-runs because undocumented immigrants involved in an accident would not be in fear of deportation due to driving without a license.
Immunity from fear for the consequences of their actions is not a good reason to give illegals the right to drive.
Espaillat doesn’t cite his source, but a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that in California’s experience with AB60 hit and runs decreased and that:
Overall, the results suggest that AB60 provides an example of how states can facilitate the integration of immigrants while creating positive externalities for the communities in which they live.10
This isn’t about safety, of course. If it was more states would support federal enforcement. It’s about legitimizing immigration status at the state level. Immigration law is a federal, not state prerogative but as with most things immigration there is always a loophole the undocumented can squeeze through.
UPDATE November 22, 2019:
Bad Reason 14: letting illegals drive grows the economy, Part II
This is the sorriest reason of all. It’s one thing to argue that sanctuary cities need tax dollars (see Bad Reason #1), but quite another to pat illegals on the back for making our state and national economies healthier.
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) credits immigrants with growing our “economic pie”11 and makes the astounding argument that:
immigrants rejuvenate an aging workforce.12
Does this mean we should replace and perhaps retire our older workers early in favor of cheap, illegal immigrant labor? It’s difficult to tell because Democrats refuse to distinguish between illegal and legal immigrants.
One thing is for certain. The left won’t give up this economic growth argument that still persists well after the end of the Obama presidency.
When New York passed its Green Light Bill last summer, “significant economic growth”13 was the hot ticket.
If economic growth is the imperative, state voters would be better off kicking Democrats out of their state houses and replacing them with more fiscally responsible politicians. Illinois, California, and New York grant the right to drive to illegals. They also have two other things in common: they are havens for Democrats and they need money, lots and lots of money.
Issuing driver’s licenses to illegals is just another symptom of the sickness that Democrats bring to state finances. Legalized gambling and marijuana and unsustainable taxation are others. So is something far more serious, as New York Rep. Brian Higgins observes:
The government cannot issue legal documents which fundamentally legitimize illegal behavior.14
We can’t, but many state governments and the District of Columbia do. Democrats regard illegal behavior as an acceptable tradeoff for this revenue stream. Residents taxed to the gills will be told that this is all in the name of unparalleled economic prosperity.
Americans are quite capable of doing that on our own, thanks.
UPDATE December 16, 2019:
Bad Reason 15: Republicans and the feds oppose it
New York’s decision to follow the lead of other irresponsible states and hand out driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants met with stiff opposition from members of its Republican congressional delegation.
Rep. Tom Reed had already put his state on notice last summer:
We warned you of the danger of giving illegal immigrants driver’s licenses late last year. 15
Reed highlighted the same problems we will have screening illegals for licenses that exist under one of the many Democratic plans for a path to citizenship, including tracing records and documents back to an applicant’s country of origin.
Fortunately for illegals, no Social Security Number is required to secure a license in New York so that hurdle isn’t something they need to worry about.
Months after Reed’s warning the state is ready to hand out licenses without interference from the feds:
Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik sent a letter to Governor Cuomo opposing his decision to block all federal Law Enforcement officers from accessing the New York State DMV database. 16
This is what happens when states and localities make bad decisions to block federal immigration enforcement:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present Mexican national Jose Barajas-Diaz, during a targeted enforcement action Friday, one week after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor an ICE detainer, and instead released Mr. Barajas-Diaz from local criminal custody following his conviction for felony death by motor vehicle.17
New York is the 14th state to take this next step to legitimize its illegal immigrant population. Meanwhile, news reports like this will continue to come from federal authorities who are blocked by states from doing their jobs:
At the station, record checks revealed that the 33-year-old driver’s name is Uriel Beltran-Molina and has multiple felony convictions. Beltran’s prior convictions included sex with a minor, oral copulation with a person under 16, and sodomy with a person under 16, all in 2008 in Santa Ana, CA. Beltran was sentenced to 211 days in jail and subsequently deported to Mexico in September of 2008. The man also has previous convictions for DUI and driving without a license stemming from 2005.18
With any luck the license won’t be a problem next time.
UPDATE January 2, 2020:
Bad Reason 16: a driver’s license makes it easier to buy marijuana
Pot became legal in Illinois yesterday. The lines outside of marijuana dispensaries were all over the national news this morning as determined dope smokers waited in the cold for hours to buy a product the state hopes to collect lots of tax revenue from.
Like illegal immigration, legal weed in Illinois is all about equity and fairness. That includes gubernatorial pardons for 11,000 residents with low level drug offenses on their records. It means making sure that Chicago dope vendor licenses are spread fairly across community color lines.
It also means that illegals can share in the hazy fun right alongside citizens. You have to be 21 and have a driver’s license or state ID to purchase marijuana in Illinois. Lucky for illegal immigrants Illinois took care of these prerequisites long ago. We also beat Mexico to the punch when it comes to recreational pot, so illegals from that country who enjoy this usually illegal indulgence can rest easy knowing they won’t get picked up for a few grams of skunky-smelling plant material in their car and be handed over to ICE to be deported.
In truth they don’t have to worry much about ICE in Illinois, either. Chicago is a sanctuary city and Pritzker’s predecessor Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois Trust Act that made us a sanctuary state. While many of us are looking to make a quick exit to anywhere but the Land of Lincoln, this is a pretty sweet place to be if you don’t belong here.