Skip to comments.Debate over licenses for illegal immigrants heats up - [Freep this poll!!]
Posted on 12/26/2001 12:35:57 PM PST by AgThorn
The debate over whether to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants has simmered for a few years, but it could heat up next month.
Proponents have 30,000 signatures, the attention of Gov. Roy Barnes and two champions in the state Legislature. Opponents plan an ad campaign and press conferences to protest possible changes during the legislative session that begins in January.
Both sides may confront questions raised by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Authorities say some of the 19 hijackers improperly obtained driver's licenses and state IDs in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey and used them to open bank accounts, rent cars and apartments and more easily blend into the mainstream.
Georgia law says only U.S. citizens and people with permission to live here can get a driver's license. That leaves out a few hundred thousand illegal immigrants, mainly Latinos. They work in poultry plants, carpet mills, construction and other businesses. They drive every day but can't buy auto insurance because they can't get licenses.
Opponents worry that illegal immigrants could use a license to access government services to which they are not entitled. They say it makes no sense to officially recognize someone whose presence violates federal law.
Rep. Barbara Mobley (D-Decatur) has filed a bill to license illegal immigrants. She said she plans to revise it, maybe to create licenses that say something like "for driving only." The goal is to ease concerns that illegal immigrants would use a license to vote.
Mobley said she expects increased opposition because of the "greater scrutiny of immigrants" after Sept. 11.
"My concern was heightened because of the tone of the country and the tone of the state," she said.
Teodoro Maus, former Mexican consul general in Atlanta, led the licensing push for years. He said Mobley's bill "would have had a better chance" were it not for attacks in New York and Washington. He predicted the bill will go nowhere without "a tremendous amount of lobbying."
Gov. Roy Barnes said Sept. 20 that Georgia should grant some form of license to illegal immigrants, but a spokeswoman declined to say whether he supports Mobley's bill. Barnes has directed the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety to study the issue, and officials there said they are examining what other states are doing.
North Carolina licenses illegal immigrants on the theory that such immigrants drive anyway and need to learn the rules of the road and have auto insurance. The state tightened requirements after Sept. 11 to require applicants to show a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number. Illegal immigrants cannot get valid Social Security numbers, but they can get taxpayer ID numbers.
Authorities in Florida, Kentucky and New Jersey tightened license requirements for foreigners after Sept. 11. And a California plan to license some illegal immigrants who have applied for legal residency was delayed by a budget crunch and concerns that potential terrorists could get licenses.
South Carolina's attorney general recently asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to require additional photo identification for airline passengers with licenses from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Utah, states that license illegal immigrants. He said the license requirements in those states create "a large loophole for potential terrorists."
Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, said his public-interest law firm plans an ad campaign and press conferences next month to campaign against driver's licenses for Georgia's illegal immigrants. He said he has met with a few legislators and doubts Mobley's bill will pass.
Driver's licenses are the closest thing Americans have to a national ID card. They let people drive legally, of course, but also let people rent videos, board airplanes and cash pay checks. They can be offered, often with a fraudulent Social Security card, as evidence that someone is legally authorized to work.
"The driver's licenses are the keys to the kingdom," Kent said. "I don't want to reward lawbreaking."
Latino leaders say getting licenses for illegal immigrants is among their top priorities. A committee of community leaders has led a petition drive that has so far collected about 30,000 signatures and several letters. The Georgia Commission on Hispanic Affairs, newly created by the governor, decided at its first meeting to examine the driver's license issue.
One commission member, Rep. Mary Squires (D-Norcross), said she plans to introduce a bill that would let people drive with a valid license from a state that borders Georgia. It also would let people drive with a valid license from Canada and Mexico. Many people don't know it, but the Department of Motor Vehicles says people with a valid license from a foreign country already can drive legally for one year.
Squires plans to discuss her bill at a press conference at the state Capitol at 10 a.m. Jan. 8. Latino leaders will also present signatures and letters they have collected in support of a change. Squires said the state should acknowledge that illegal immigrants are important to the economy.
This poll is going the direction it should .... but always in need of assist!
Giving illegals free driver's licenses gives terrorists an easier time in infiltrating our systems.
Wake up people. The government don't give a damn what the people want. The federal government says your vote means nothing!
Don't forget motor voter!! We don't need a bunch of illegal immigrants determining our elections.
People are in this country illegally and we have no way of
knowing who they are or where they live....... they refuse
to become "legal" citizens [or "legal" immigrants for that matter]....
And a "license to drive a car" will give us the info we could use...
Yeah... you far right wingies are right... it ain't a good idea.
If that is the plan, then I support the idea 100%...
Hey, tell me something... When the "illegals" aren't able to do
the work you refuse to do for the low dollar they will work for...
Who are you going to blame, when those hiring them move their
companies out of the USA?
How about when their product costs more than you can afford,
due to their higher costs of production from having to pay higher
wages to US workers? They'll fold up shop, and those now doing
the skilled labor will be out of work with them.
The problem is more complicated than what meets a red-necked eye.
[no offense intended]
I'd be willing to wager a years pay, you don't pay more than
$50.00 per year [in taxes] for anything of that sort.
And I'd be as willing to wager, that you wouldn't continue to
frequent any businessman that's charging more for what you
buy, than your local WalMart.
This Nation needs "cheap labor". If we can't provide it, our
industry will seek it elsewhere. Pay now or pay later.
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