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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Illegal Immigrants Rush to Get Driver’s Licenses in California - New Law Allows Undocumented Immigrants in Calif. to Apply for Permit

From The Wall Street Journal:

On Jan. 2, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles began tackling a surge of such applicants, complying with a new law allowing those who prove they reside here to qualify for a driver’s license regardless of immigration status. In the first three days, 46,200 people applied.

In doing so, California joins nine other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants. Supporters say it promotes road safety; critics say it legitimizes illegal immigrants.

“Granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens is a further attempt...to normalize the status of illegal aliens,” said Ira Mehlman, media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national group that lobbies against legalizing undocumented immigrants.

For decades, many states with large immigrant populations issued driver’s licenses to foreigners regardless of their immigration status. In California, undocumented residents could get licenses until 1994, when debate over illegal immigration began to flare. Other states began to crack down amid heightened security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

About 40% of the nation’s foreign-born individuals now live in a state that offers licenses to residents regardless of status.

Currently, some states with large illegal-immigrant populations, like Texas and Arizona, don’t issue licenses to undocumented residents, while Illinois, Maryland and Washington are among those that do. Offering licenses has become a less polarizing issue in some states as law enforcement, the auto-insurance industry and policy makers in those states have expressed support.

“The worst day is when you get in an accident and look up to see the other person drove off because they are undocumented and unlicensed,” said Dan Dunmoyer, head of government and industry affairs at Farmers Insurance. “If people are driving to their jobs, because they have to, it’s good for them and other motorists that they be tested, licensed and insured.”

Across the country, driving without a license increases the chances an illegal immigrant will be cited, and if arrested, come to the attention of immigration authorities, which could trigger deportation proceedings.

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