When Massachusetts’ citizen will understand that a driver’s license is not a green card? The undocumented immigrants topic becomes a public one across the United States. Further, the idea of granting driver’s license to these undocumented immigrants is an even more highly controversial matter in many States including Massachusetts. A driver’s license is an authorization given to state’ residents after they have been tested and proven that they can operate a vehicle safely. Nevertheless, this privilege comes with requirements. In order that, having a driving license is a legal barrier for undocumented immigrants because they do not meet the requirements. Massachusetts remains one of the State in the U.S. with a high population driving without a license. An article in The Boston Globe titled ”Licenses for illegal immigrants would make all drivers safer” informs that 160,000 undocumented residents in Massachusetts drive without any driver’s education or insurance. (Boston Globe, 2). While many people are proponents of giving driver’s license to these undocumented for public safety, economic and law enforcement purposes. Those who resist this idea of the license for all think that might considered as a form of the government approval of illegal immigration status, which could open a Pandora box for further immigration, and also put national security at risk as we don’t know their criminal histories. For instance, In the article ”Should State Issue Driver’s license to Immigrants in the United States Illegally” Chris Christie, JD Governor of New Jersey in response to the Massachusetts Safe Driving Bill, September 2015 wrote that Drivers’ license for illegal is irresponsible and dangerous. ”I am disturbed by the Legislature even considering making undocumented individuals eligible for New Jersey driver’s license is the single most important piece of homeland security information. The Legislature proposes giving that to people with no definitive proof of their identity, said Christie.” However, with the driver’s every undocumented driver will have the opportunity to pass the driving safety test and obtain car insurance, to contribute economically to the State Revenue and related markets. It will also serve in law enforcement and identification purpose by dissipating their fear of being deported for driving illegally in Massachusetts.
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First of all, Issuing a driver’s license to undocumented immigrants will improve the public road safety. To get a driver’s license, everyone should take a writing test, get a learner’s permit, and then take the practice road test for the license. These processes allow each driver to know better the driving laws and the consequences of violating these laws. As a result of that, we will have more trained drivers and less uninsured motorists. Drivers will be obligated to obtain insurance if they are acquiring a vehicle. By having insurance, motorists are ensuring the safety of drivers in Massachusetts because of the decreasing of the hit-and-run. When involved in an accident, an undocumented driver is more likely to flee the scene even is not at fault. But, his or her unregistered car prevented him or her to call the police because they first asked for a driving license. According to the article, ”Licenses for illegal immigrants would make all drivers safer” published in The Boston Globe, New Mexico, which began issuing licenses to illegal immigrants in 2003, has seen a 24% decrease in uninsured drivers and a similar drop in motor vehicle fatalities (3). In addition, Lindsey R. Wheeler in the article ”Driving privilege cards for undocumented Minnesotans’, reported that the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2008 informed that unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal traffic accidents (over 8,000 drivers involved in fatal crashes annually nearly one of every seven have an invalid license, no license or unknown license status (117). On the other hand, the opponents rejected the road safety argument and thought that undocumented immigrants are being rewarded for being in the U.S. illegally. They said that undocumented usually have a false document, so the license will be registered on a false identity. They argue that granted a driver’s license to undocumented will allow them to get an accident insurance policy that they can cancel after getting the license. The undocumented are working in low-wage, so they will not be able to afford insurance and buy new cars neither. They concluded that issuing driver’s license to undocumented would increase the accident rate caused by uninsured drivers. However, the restrictions still not help in solving the problem as we could not prevent people from driving illegally. Logically, there is no link between having a license and an immigration status. The license does not entitle anyone the right to become a resident. It will only help them to drive a vehicle, according to regulations. In the Boston Globe editorial” Immigration Status Has Nothing to do with Driving Skills”, it has been asked to the Massachusetts authorities through the Safe Driving Bill to face the realities and give priority to the safety of all motorists ahead of the politics of immigration. The inability of people to get a driver’s license put state citizen’s at risk, increase premium for everyone and forced people to move to another state if they are in trouble for accidents. It would be way better to grant them the driving license and secure our roads and citizen lives.
Secondly, by getting a driver’s license, undocumented drivers will contribute to the State Revenue through taxes and related markets by expanding the insurance auto sales, the driving schools market. The majority of undocumented people came in the U.S. unknown well as the ”land of fire and full of opportunity” to find a better life and future for themselves and their families. So, having a driver’s license will allow them to get more jobs and be more productive members in our economy as a driving license is required for many jobs in Massachusetts. Vermont issued driver’s license to undocumented immigrants because most of them work on dairy farms, which are a substantial contribution to Vermont’s economy. This privilege ensured that workers could get to work (Gonzalez and al. 3). From 1990 to 2015, in States that have issued driving documents, the per capita disposable personal income (money left after paying taxes) grows faster than in States with restrictions (J. Alejandro Tirado-Alvarez, 23). Alcaraz also informed that data from the Rhode Island Department of Revenue, the average annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) related to people filing tax returns with an ITIN (Individual Tax Payer Identification Number) between 2012-2014 was $ 70,087,706. Their average contribution to the State’s economy via taxes during the same period is $708,938 per year (24). The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reported that undocumented immigrants living in Rhode Island currently pay $33,438,000 in State and local taxes even they cannot claim any benefits. Massachusetts is the one of the State with the largest number of tax returns filed with ITINs (. Undocumented drivers may not have legal documents, but they contribute to the U.S economy growth. They usually filled the types of jobs native workers often rejected. They are more willing to do all of the dirty and low income jobs. It seems clear that by issuing the license, the State will spend a little compared to what they could gain. Opponents feel like undocumented drivers are being encouraged to enter the U.S. illegally with tremendous benefits. Edmund Kozak, political reporter for lifezette.com in an article on April 8, 2016 ”States to Illegal Aliens Welcome” argued that unfortunately, many States have decided to go into the business of encouraging illegal immigration. Some 605,000 of the roughly 1.4 million driver’s license issue in California last year went to illegal aliens. Kozak said that the cost of the processing of the new applicants is estimated at $ 141 million over three years. This cost will be supported by the legal citizens of California because the State did not require those undocumented to pay taxes. Undoubtedly, these allegations might be dictated by the stereotypes which are used against undocumented immigrants, and unfortunately, many people are blinded by the ”single story” about these hard working people. If legal citizens paid for the fees related to driving licenses, why would it be different for undocumented drivers? If undocumented people accepted to work and pay federal taxes without the same benefits as other legal workers, why would they not pay for their driving license? In States that issue permits for undocumented aliens, the policy has largely self-funded; i.e., fees collected from applicants pay for the costs of issuing the permit explained in the Boston Editorial Immigration has Nothing to do with Driving Skills. Based on that, it is clear that the license would not be funded by the State but by the applicants themselves. These people bring so much to the Economy and are not repaid because they are not in the U.S. legally. Finally, Issuing a driver’s license to undocumented would help in building a relationship between State police and immigrants and would serve for identification purposes. That will allow them to be out of the shadow of having a sort of identity. They will be able to drive safely to work and throughout the State without the fear of being deported if pulled over by Police and cannot provide a driver’s license or proof of legal resident. For example, an undocumented immigrant who was pulled over for speeding could get deported while she/he was trying to provide a future for himself/herself and his/her children. They might not have a criminal history, but they will have to leave their family behind because of simply speeding. It appears like police officers are immigration officers. By all means, a driving license will allow the corps officers to quickly identify the driver who will not be worried about a simple traffic stop. Lindsey R Wheeler acknowledged that many police departments prohibit police officer from asking about the immigration status of witnesses, victims or suspects encourage them to cooperate with law enforcement. Furthermore, the Registration of Motor Vehicle will have a complete database of photographs, fingerprints, etc., which could help in investigating crimes, tracking down suspects, and proving guilt. Attorney Margaret Stock, a nationally known expert on immigration and national security law, explained that the collective DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle database are the largest law enforcement databases in the country with records on more individuals adult than any other law enforcement databases (Wheeler, 121). Although some may view the process of giving license to undocumented drivers as beneficial for law enforcement, others see it has dangerous. For example, Cass Ballenger in a Sept.17, 2002 press release on his cosponsored Driver’s License Integrity stated that a driving license or State identification is an essential tool used by illegal aliens to solidify their presence here and to move about freely. The license for all is a clear threat to our safety and economic security. After all, the opponents forgot that the undocumented immigrants live and work in the U.S. invisible to the government database including the police. And this a way to give them an identification card in the U.S. as sometimes, they don’t even have the valid ones from their country. Remember, federal authorities identified the 19 terrorists of 9/11 through their driver’s license from several states. So, it sounds wrong when people think that denying a permit will ensure the U.S. security from a criminal. People use their foreign passport or government-issued photo IDs to travel to another country, not their driver’s licenses. Denying a driver’s license to illegal immigrants will make the law enforcement harder. They will consider that they are not part of the society, and will not come to report a crime, help of Police investigation, etc. Give an identification card number to our undocumented immigrants as we did for all citizens and let make them feel that they are part of our State.
In conclusion, issuing a driver’s license to undocumented immigrants would have positive effects on our community and security. We should all have concerns about this issue that affects our lives negatively. Let’s deal with the immigration status issue and make everyone on the road safer. Driving without a license is more dangerous than driving without legal resident papers.
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