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OP-ED | Give Them Licenses And Legalize The Illegals

by | May 31, 2013 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Immigration, Opinion, Public Safety

It is remarkable in this day and age that elected officials will on occasion pursue and enact policies in defiance of public opinion polls. Chalk it up either to courage or to a calculated political move designed to appease a very important constituency in the hope that the majority will forget it by the next election.

Such is the case with the General Assembly’s embrace of legislation permitting unlawful immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Both the Senate and House passed versions of the bill by relatively narrow margins in recent days. After seven hours of often contentious debate, the House passed the bill at the crack of dawn last Thursday, while the Senate took six hours to approve the bill a week later. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has expressed support for the legislation and is sure to sign it shortly when it gets to his desk.

Lawmakers enacted this extraordinary initiative even though a Quinnipiac University poll from March showed Connecticut residents opposed to the measure by a margin of 65-31 percent.

Whether passing the law was an act of bravery or strictly a matter of pandering to a special interest is now irrelevant. It was the right thing to do for a variety of reasons. Connecticut and the nation have a problem with illegal immigration. That problem is compounded when people who are in this country illegally drive illegally. If you can’t obtain a driver’s license, then you cannot register a car or buy insurance for it. Of the 120,000 unlawful immigrants estimated by the Pew Research Center to be residing in Connecticut, about 54,000 are driving on the state’s roads without proper documentation. The presence of tens of thousands of unlicensed drivers on state roads creates obvious hazards.

In a typical traffic accident, both parties stop and wait for police to arrive. Disputes are taken up by the criminal justice system and the insurance companies. But if you’re an unlawful immigrant, you don’t have a license to drive or the required liability insurance for the car. So you flee the scene, leaving the other driver holding the ball, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Is this good public policy? Is it in the best interests of licensed drivers to share the roads with so many who are unencumbered by the state laws which the rest of us must obey? This is not a matter of being soft on crime. As Malloy said, there’s a reason why so many municipal police departments — in other words, law-and-order types — support this initiative. It injects an element of accountability into the no-man’s land in which most unlawful immigrants reside.

Of course, the goal should be to reduce illegal immigration in the first place. But it would require an intense and unrelenting focus on border security. And even then, it’s far from clear whether we could succeed in keeping out those who are determined to risk their lives to come here. Many hardliners who say we should seal the border and deport those who are now here illegally don’t understand market economics as well as they think they do.

First, trying to stop illegal immigration will likely be as futile as trying to ban guns, alcohol, drugs, or prostitution. If people want a product, then vendors will be resourceful enough to find a way to get it to them. In the case of illegal immigration, if there are jobs and the promise of a better economic future in the U.S., then immigrants from poor countries will find a way to get here.

Second, the notion that we can round up all unlawful immigrants — estimated by various organizations to be between 10 million to 20 million — and then herd them onto buses and send them back over the border is ludicrous on its face. Conservative columnist George Will did the math and determined that — even if it were logistically possible, which it isn’t —┬áthe deportation of 11 million people would require a line of buses stretching from San Diego to Alaska. Mass deportations will never happen and we know it.

As Will pointed out, the majority of unlawful immigrants have children who were born here and are U.S. citizens. Would Americans tolerate the police state required to root out every person here illegally, separate them from their families and send them back to a country such as Mexico, where the murder rate is several times that of the U.S.?

No, I’m afraid we need practical solutions and a path to legality for those who failed to sign the guest book on the way in. And Connecticut’s legislation allowing for drivers licenses is a good first step. Kudos to the General Assembly for taking a step in the right direction, no matter what the motive.

Terry Cowgill blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and was an editor and senior writer for The Lakeville Journal Company. He can be found on Twitter @terrycowgill.

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(7) Archived Comments

posted by: ASTANVET | May 31, 2013  9:46am

No it will not be mass deportations, but when you as a police officer or public official are aware of a viloation of law, do you not have a duty to enforce?  Can we pick and choose which laws are ok, or not?  Who then decides?  If the citizens do not know which laws are currently “in favor” - when confronted with an illegal, there should be a deportation process.  It is that simple.  This bill will in no way change the outcome of those accidents, and will in no way make the roads any safer.  What it will accomplish is a higher cost of doing business at the state - and longer lines at DMV.  No illegal immigrant should have access to any state service paid for by taxpayers.  No welfare, no subsidy, no housing, no drivers license, no school.  Those services are benefits from paying taxes and paying and being a lawful member of the community.  Starve them of the benefits they are currently enjoying and create an incentive to either leave or go through the legal process.

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 31, 2013  11:15am

I agree with most of what ASTANVET is saying but I still struggle with the fact that Americans will not do some of the jobs the illegals will do, and much of this work needs to be done.

If I were King I would solve that by having people on welfare and getting substantial benefits would have to do this work (assuming they can work) and pay them min wage on top of their benefits. I would then supplement with a guest worker program but the rules you would have to follow would be strict and deportation of an entire family could result.

People dont have the stomach for tough love though, so things like that would never happen.

I’m worried more about the open border and what else has come across with those people desiring a better life. Gang members and scum bags have certainly come across, but I predict that one day, people in the United States of America will pay a heavy price and it wont be because of some Mexican maid that wants a better life for her child and relatives back home.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | May 31, 2013  12:45pm

I agree, astanvet.

Get legal or get nothing.


posted by: ASTANVET | May 31, 2013  3:09pm

Joe, i would wonder why Americans will ‘not do that work’...I believe the root is in the minimum wage, and in our entitlement programs, when it is more beneficial to sit and do nothing vs. get a job at a hotel, at a farm, wherever there is hard work - people will always choose to sit and do nothing.  If Welfare and Social security were means tested to be a TRUE safety net, not only would the people who need it get better service, but those who say the won’t do those jobs would absolutely do it.  We would also see a benefit in getting taxes from them because they wouldn’t have to have a black market economy anymore… I’m not as brief and clear as Dr. HST - i should develop that skill!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | June 1, 2013  12:04am

@ Joebigjoe you said but I still struggle with the fact that Americans will not do some of the jobs the illegals will do, and much of this work needs to be done. Then How do you explain this.

Workers Claim Race Bias as Farms Rely on Immigrants

posted by: Christopher55 | June 7, 2013  6:12pm

So…the “legal” people of Connecticut oppose this measure by 65% to 31% and our legislature still passes it!!!  What ever happened to representing the people??  Time to vote these idiots out of office come next election.

posted by: Bigray | June 10, 2013  8:03pm

That is the dumbest bit of Liberal logic I have heard in some time. With the arguments put forth in this op-ed, we should legalize prostitution, drugs and probably dog fighting (after all, we can’t seem to stop them)!
  The illegals did not all arrive here last night, and it is foolish to think we will deport them all overnight. But you don’t start pumping out a flooded basement until you stop the water flow. Right now we have a porous border and every single incentive to encourage illegals a Democrat lawmakers can think of.
  Honestly, I dont know why any illegal would WANT to be legalized, there are far too many advantages to staying off the radar. If we cut incentives to break the law, that is a good place to start. Giving law-breakers a licence to to operate vehicles is not a step in the right direction.
  Oh, and the fact that they did this against the wishes of the general population is not courageous, its simply a power grab. But Democrats were never really concerned with what the average person wants ... they see a new large voting block so screw the people you are supposed to represent ... welcome illegals!

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