U.S. Law Center

Reform debate shifts towards licensing of illegal immigrants

In our prior posts, we have discussed a number of facets regarding immigration reform, especially the recent changes to detention measures for suspected illegals. In this post we want to focus on the debate surrounding driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

Some reform advocates believe that illegal immigrants should have the right to gain driver's licenses, and that a prominent safety issue could be resolved through such a process. Essentially, the belief is that fewer accidents would take place if they were licensed by the State of California, because each driver (before being licensed) certifies that he or she understands the motor vehicles code and has been tested on the basic rules of the road.

However, since 1994, state law has required license applicants to have a valid social security number or show that they are in the country legally. Since undocumented immigrants do not have such proof, it is presumed that they do not obtain driver's licenses.

Also, a study conducted by the California DMV indicates that unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash compared to licensed drivers. Researchers explain to the Sacramento Bee that the study was not specifically geared to illegal immigrants. Rather, it was the first study of its kind in 15 years.

Those on the opposite side of the debate argue that the state should not provide government issued ID's to people who are in the country illegally. They believe that the government has taken drastic steps to limit the threat of terrorism, and giving illegal immigrants licenses directly contradicts public policy.

We will continue to report on this debate as more information becomes available.

Source: WTSP.com,Immigrant groups welcome DMV study on licenses, January 16, 2013

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