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Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants – What To Do?

April 14th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

One of the most intensely debated issues involved in the immigration reform debate is whether illegal immigrants should be able to have driver’s licenses or not. Currently, Washington, Illinois, Maryland and New Mexico are the only four states that do not require proof of lawful U.S. residency to get a driver’s license. In other words, this is mainly an issue for the states to decide individually; however, the federal government has gotten involved in the debate as well. In fact, some of you may remember that President Obama was publicly in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants during his campaigning days.

Those in favor of the policy (giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants) claim that not issuing them leads to discriminatory practices in law enforcement. Additionally, proponents claim that the policy will make roads safer because these immigrants will be able to acquire the proper driver’s training, testing, and insurance. Moreover, proponents argue the policy helps law enforcement efforts to have more people registered in state databases.

Those against the policy claim it makes it easier for these immigrants to live and work in the U.S. illegally. The underlying logic is that a driver’s license would allow immigrants to have access to other documentation and forms of identification that would provide an impression that the immigrant is actually here lawfully. Also, some argue that providing people driver’s licenses without the requirement of lawful U.S. residency causes the versatility (and value) of that state’s driver’s license to decrease. In other words, certain states may not recognize the validity of the driver’s licenses from the four states listed above (Washington, Illinois, Maryland and New Mexico).

If all this isn’t complex enough for you, there are other complications that get mixed into this whole debate. One such complication is called the Real ID Act. The Real ID Act is a law that was passed in 2005 and mandates minimal standards set forth by the government for issuing state identification. The standards require legal status and a social security number. Currently, the Real ID Act is set to go into effect in 2011. The reason this affects the driver’s license debate is because many states will fall under a category in which the driver’s licenses that these states issue will not be valid for federal purposes (i.e. access to federal buildings, nuclear power plants, boarding aircraft, etc.). To learn more about the Real ID Act, you can visit the specified link at Dept. of Homeland Security Website (DHS). Additionally, some wonder whether many states will adopt the Real ID standards with regard to driver’s licenses themselves. One side note is that Janet Napolitano (Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Sec.) has agreed to review the policy.

The other complication that affects the driver’s license issue is something called “287(g).” Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) basically allows for DHS to delegate the authority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to state and local law enforcement agencies. In other words, state and local police officers would essentially be able to perform immigration law enforcement functions. The reason this is important with regard to the driver’s license debate is because law enforcement officers may now be asking for immigration status when pulling over someone for a simple traffic stop. This would subject illegal immigrants to life-changing consequences simply for tiny infractions. In other words, rather than deport people for truly “deportable/removable offenses,” many could be jailed and deported simply because their encounters with the law are for very minor offenses, such as driving without a license, which illegal immigrants are all but forced to do under most state laws. To learn more about 287(g) and whether DHS has a memorandum of agreement with your city or county, see the specified ICE link.

After reading about this deeply convoluted issue, what do you think? Should illegal immigrants be allowed to get driver’s licenses? Why, or why not?

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  1. SK
    April 14th, 2009 at 04:21 | #1

    I don’t think it should be up the DPS to determine that- that’s for sure. Check out this article: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D97F6ICO1.html

  2. Delaware Bob
    April 14th, 2009 at 22:48 | #2

    Why would give a driver’s license to an ILLEGAL ALIEN? Makes no sense when by law, the ILLEGAL ALIEN should not be here in the first place.
    It’s just one thing after another with these ILLEGAL ALIENS. The problems will continue as long as ILLEGAL ALENS are in this Country.

    It is time for ZERO TOLERENCE with these ILLEGAL ALIENS. It’s time for them to return to their home Country where they belong. They don’t belong here.

  3. Sid
    April 15th, 2009 at 04:48 | #3

    This is very dificult to say cause more one million illegal people are living in america and sould get back their homeland and the other should get chance to go america legalee.

  4. April 15th, 2009 at 23:44 | #4

    Hi there,
    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.
    Have a nice day

  5. Dilse321
    April 29th, 2009 at 15:45 | #5

    Since the federal goverment is far from reaching a consensus on what to do with the millions of people who live here illegally, it is necessary for the states to decide what to do with them and how much freedom is given to them.

    Out of convenience for American citizens, I believe they should be allowed to have a driver license. In places such a texas, it is impossible to move around without a car so these people are still on the road whether they have a license or not. Without a license, they are unable to get insurance so in case of an accident, they have no way to deal with the costs.

    To those who think that having a drivers license would make it easier to work and live in this country, I would like to remind them that even without a license THESE PEOPLE ALREADY LIVE AND WORK in this country. A license will not change that fact. On the contrary, denying them the right to a license only makes the situation worse because unscrupulous people see an opportunity for bussiness and charge hundreds of dollars to forge such document creating an ever growing black market and a thriving industry for identity theft.

    Perhaps the biggest concern, should be the fact that we have no idea who this people are. If one of them comits a crime, there is no information of him in our national databases. No fingerprints, DNA or anything of the sort. I believe that providing a driver’s license will help us keep track of who is in this country, what state they live in (perhaps the area), their fingerprints and perhaps help to keep a criminal record. That way we can have regain a little bit of control on who lives among us.

  6. May 2nd, 2009 at 21:20 | #6

    I agree everyone has their point of view but unfortunately Illegal Imigration will not stop so wouldn’t you think its better to at least give them a drivers license and have people be able to get insurance and drive legally because now that there are no drivers license does not means people without drivers license will stop driving basically this is making the streets more unsafe and now you will probably get in an accident and don’t know if the driver has a drivers license or even insurance. Guess what they will probably get a ticket for no drivers license but now your insurance will have to pay for the damage

  7. charles
    June 3rd, 2009 at 22:40 | #7

    First of all, when you travel to another country or even any South or Central spanish countries and when you go there and arrived you end up driving, renting a car, driving all over getting to know those cities and everything is just fine. Well when they come here to the United States and arrived by planes with there visas at hand, we got problems, they can’t drive. Driving is really not a luxury is really a necesity. When I show my driver’s license it should not demonstrate or proof that I’m legally residing in that Country, it should just allow me to drive.

  8. June 16th, 2009 at 22:00 | #8

    @Delaware Bob

  9. aMuzEd
    July 2nd, 2009 at 23:22 | #9

    I’ve always wondered this..what does DRIVING have to do with being an illegal or not? That’s so ridiculous! It’s two complete different things.

    “You’re illegal so you’re not allowed to drive” Yeah.. like that’s going to stop them from driving. Yet another “blonde moment” from our society.

  10. Jmar30
    July 11th, 2009 at 01:10 | #10

    Well everybody has their own opinion about the issue, but not all of us understand what the topic is all about.
    First of all we have to educate ourselves in the issue. Have you ever looked in the dictionary the word “ILLEGAL”? I bet you don’t even know what it means. Instead of “ILLEGAL” you need to be using the term UNDOCUMENTED People because that is the status of the people living here without the proper documentation.
    Undecumented workers are not the ones stilling the jobs from US Citizens, they are taking the jobs we do not want to do. A driver’s license will only give an undocumented worker the right to drive to generate more money and keep the economy moving. Just in case you did not know they are the people injecting cash to the US economy. A great portion of the US Citizens rely on “CREDIT” which has cause a big big truble to our economy. We can say yes or not to the Driver’s license to Undocumented People but at last the government has decision to make.

  11. Jmar30
    July 11th, 2009 at 01:11 | #11

    @Delaware Bob
    You need to educate yourself read more about the issue.

  12. coy
    July 23rd, 2009 at 18:41 | #12

    I think this is not really a matter if an illegal immigrant is working hard in this country or not. as what Delaware bob is pointing.
    The issue here is wether to issue a driver’s license to illegal immigrant or not. I believe that we do need to give these people a chance to drive around. With the US economy going down. It would be better to have these people get licenses which would be in a way a win win situation in this country because of the following reasons.

    1) Giving them Licenses would give the government a way to track them.
    2) Illegal Aliens who gets a driver’s license would go to buy a car, thus helping the car industry.
    3) Insurance company will get more income with these people, since you need to have insurance before you can drive.

    I Believe that Illegal Immigrants would want to be legal if they would be given the opportunity.

  13. babontan maglapi
    August 4th, 2009 at 16:50 | #13

    In my opinion being out of status in the united states in these argument about drivers licence is non sense to me coz, why? did not alow us to have legal resedence in the way we can work and recieved benifets.even am not legal yet.now am still working and pay taxes but icant file my w2 coz my employer who made my social security # and i know thats not real.i been working here 8 years just to feed my family life to short.why? they dont give us upportunity to come out from the dark shadow just to continue serve american people same what im doing helping old american in the nursing home facility.mostly my work are volunter helf feeding, assisting people even they are nto related to.i have no place to go coz all my family killed by earthquake.so am here alone.am planning to back where i live but the problem my plce was wash out by lahar and not good stay anymore.hope am praying that someday theere is shinning light to all people in needs.god bless america

  14. SAM
    August 13th, 2009 at 03:44 | #14

    @Delaware Bob
    its silly that you should say that and our country is formed from illegal aliens, always remember you came on this earth and say it there and you gonna leave it the same way so why not all try to enjoy, thats what UNITED WE STAND MEANS

  15. SAM
    August 13th, 2009 at 03:47 | #15


  16. victor
    August 19th, 2009 at 23:47 | #16

    mister delaware u better shut up i know u personally and your family that u have done illegal activities and one of ur favorite driver is illigal no licences too.

  17. September 15th, 2009 at 19:52 | #17

    i keep drivin with out a license. ive done it for the past 3 years and now im in college the police can kiss my ass! couse ima kiss them tickets goodbye to da trash haha untill we get licenses ima keep it up
    not like i be drivin drunk or without my seatbelt hahaa its only driving nothing special and whatever …

    November 16th, 2009 at 15:33 | #18

    thou shalt never vx a stranger, nor opress him; for ye were strangers in the land of egypt.exodus:22:21. but the stranger that dwelleth withyou shall be unto you as one born among you and thou shalt love hime as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of egypt:i am the lord your god.leviticus 19:34. why do you say in god we trust and god bless america america belnongs to god, god our father yes out father we are all his babies he said if we cant make in out land we should migrate to another that is why he separated the land. go will punish all of you who hates immigrants.you know most of you who have problem with immigrants never travelled you never even left the state in which you were born. i am sure the illegal immigrants have travel to almost every state there is. we konow how to struggle starve husstle and sacrifice to make our live better. listen to exodus 22:21 and levitcus 19:34 and let the immigrants be. OH PLEASE FIND OUT WHERE YOU GREAT GREAT GREATS GRAND PARENTS WERE FROM. U WILL SURPRISE TO FIND OUT THEY WERE ALL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL AT ONE TIME SOME DIED BEFROE BECOMING A CITIZEN

    November 16th, 2009 at 15:51 | #19


  20. Jaime Guevara
    December 4th, 2009 at 07:17 | #20

    Now that is a valid point, I mean really, what does a driver’s license have to do with anything? All it should do is let people drive, I mean who here who is illegal would want access to a nuclear reactor? Or a federal building? Come on it’s stupid to think that someone would like to do that knowing that they are illegal!

  21. Jaime Guevara
    December 4th, 2009 at 07:18 | #21

    Dude please stop, you are just making it worse!

  22. Jaime Guevara
    December 4th, 2009 at 07:23 | #22

    That is right, actually more than that a lot of undocumented immigrants, and pardon my use of the word illegal in any of my previous comments, actually leave a lot of their tax returns unclaimed. This means that they do help the economy, working jobs that nobody wants and at the same time paying their taxes dutifully. It’s sad really because the immigrants that people see on the news were already poor farmers in their country, but they don’t show those who used to be professionals but because of some incident or other are now stuck doing jobs that pay less than minimum wage.

  23. josh
    January 24th, 2010 at 04:15 | #23

    im a us citizen my whole family is white. i attend a&m college and everyday i see so many people that dont have documents but i have to saay they are some realle hard working people. and because of them so many jobs are created for ppl like us wat i mean by that is that they create jobs for other ppl too. i would actually prefer a person to have a drivers license so they could get insurance and everybody be safer. i dont think these ppl bother anyone. i dont think im better than them we are all equal

  24. citizen of the world
    January 25th, 2010 at 14:57 | #24

    hey josh u have a good heart. will be succesfull in what ever you set out to do. you are a perfect example of exodus 22:12

  25. citizen of the world
    January 25th, 2010 at 15:08 | #25

    don’t u think that if we get drivers license it would be easy for the government to find us when it is time to depot us? and that if god forbid we wreck a citizen’s car or hit an american they will be able to be compensated by the insurance, instead the immgrant go to jail and the us citizen get nothin? all that because because of a license.. think about that.
    would you rather get knock down by licences and insured illigal immigrant or an unlicensed and uninsured one?

  26. citizen of the world
    January 25th, 2010 at 15:22 | #26

    thats right.give d people a card stating for driving and insurance purpose only

  27. belinda walker
    February 17th, 2010 at 15:55 | #27

    Well, it is a sad day when we legalize breaking the law. If stealing candy in the amount of $1.00 dollar was just a slap on the hand and everytime Johnny did it we did not worry about it and tell him to do better next time, what would he learn? The difference is when they drive with or without license in any state and have accidents and are not leagal, there are not legal actions taken against them. I was in court for a traffic ticket and my Latino Borther did not have license and he hit someone, they dismissed the case! How do you document it and how do you go after someone who you cannont document or contact. I watched it with my own eyes. It is just that if people what to come to this country do it the right way, no matter what race you are! I pay taxes and work very hard like I am sure that legal immigrants do! There is a pride in doing things the right way America seems to be one of the few countries that justify people in there wrong!! Wake up! Wrong is wrong and right is right, it is not a democrat thing or a republican thing it is a commene sense thing! In America spansish is quickly becoming the required language… SMH!

  28. Delaware-Bob- go home
    February 19th, 2010 at 01:27 | #28

    @Delaware Bob
    I think it’s about time you go back to your country
    YOU dont belong here,who let you in?
    oh thats right,you just came here and said it was yours

  29. Raul Lazcano
    March 2nd, 2010 at 01:23 | #29

    I think that teen immigrants should get there license. Because its not fair for them. THey have to rely on there friends and parents all the time to get some where or get picked up. Also when your 16, teens start getting there license and it sucks watching everybody drive sept yourself. It feels like you dont belong in this country, but you grew up here in the united states your whole life. It sucks when your mom says im sorry son your not allowed to drive. If you have a girlfriend and she wants to know why you cant drive and you just tell her that my mom wont let me. It sucks so much. Because its not true its because your Illegal.
    I really hope that they give licenses to teen immigrants.

  30. Raul Lazcano
    March 2nd, 2010 at 01:31 | #30

    @Delaware-Bob- go home
    who said that the united states was your country in the first place

  31. Idaho-Brett
    March 7th, 2010 at 01:34 | #31

    Deleware bob you must be an idiot. giving a drivers license to undocumented people will only make things better and safer, undocumented people will still continue to drive”illegaly” because they have to provide by DRIVING to work. issuing DL will only give us a better position of control because we will be able to have a record on all undocumented workers. I know there are pros and cons to this arguement but the pros outweigh the cons. DL dont have to be only for citizens but for anyone who has a car and intends to use it. how scary America will turn if we dont allow undocumented workers to take drivers ed and learn how to drive. DL are only for driving . shit stamp the DL with a huge red label saying “im illegal” but at least give them the opportunity to drive legally.

  32. bk
    May 1st, 2010 at 03:46 | #32

    God bless you whatever you just say thats the true 5**************

  33. citzen of the world
    May 2nd, 2010 at 12:17 | #33

    @Raul Lazcano
    delaware bob have u ever traveled outside delaware?

  34. lexi
    January 10th, 2012 at 01:25 | #34

    what is your website

  35. lexi
    January 10th, 2012 at 01:25 | #35

    what is your website again

  36. Ariel
    January 11th, 2012 at 02:45 | #36

    It is sad that what so called “Americans” are so ignorant, they are so worried about hispanics taking over the United States when they stole US to the Native Americans. I dont understand why they use God on the currency when they dont even show a bit of compassion for people coming to US to better their lives.

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