This House would give illegal immigrants drivers licenses

In 2007, Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York proposed that all illegal immigrants in his state should be allowed to obtain drivers licenses[1]. At the time, it was estimated that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 illegal immigrants were residing in New York state[2], most of them driving on the roads despite a lack of a driver’s license. Spitzer proposed that instead of needing an American Social Security number to get a driver’s license, New York would also accept a foreign passport as adequate identification to obtain a license[3].

The move for giving illegal immigrants licenses is an issue that has arisen and re-arisen multiple times, especially in states with high illegal immigrant populations such as California[4]. However, American citizens are seemingly overwhelmingly against this policy[5] with over 70% of New Yorkers polling against this policy[6]. This creates a debate over what the impact of these licenses will be and how the public’s perception of this policy weighs up against these potential benefits. Currently, seven states in the US allow illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses: Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington[7].

[1] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[2] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[3] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[4] Nelson, Jennifer, "Illegal Immigrant Drivers' Licenses: Here We Go Again', 21 June 2004, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2004/06/21/jnelson.DTL

[5] "Position Paper: No Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens." News Blaze. Realtime News, 23 Sep 2001. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. http://newsblaze.com/story/20070923120657tsop.nb/topstory.html

[6] Nelson, Jennifer. "Illegal Immigrant Drivers' Licenses: Here We Go Again." San Francisco Chronicle 21 June 2004, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2004/06/21/jnelson.DTL

[7] "Position Paper: No Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens." News Blaze. Realtime News, 23 Sep 2001. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. http://newsblaze.com/story/20070923120657tsop.nb/topstory.html

 

Title 
The provision of driver’s licenses makes the streets safer.
Point 

Offering drivers licenses to illegal immigrants makes the streets safer by giving drivers training to people who would otherwise be driving on the streets without adequate education. Unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to get into a fatal crash than licensed drivers[1].

A fact that needs to be acknowledged is that illegal immigrants have a necessity to drive and the vast majority will do so regardless of if they are given licenses or not. This is very dangerous both for them and for those who they share the road with as they are operating motor vehicles with a proper education on the rules of the road or any form of driving instruction or test to ensure that they can competently and safely drive on the streets[2].

Illegal immigrants are very likely to opt into this system of driver’s education and licensing because it is in their own interest to avoid breaking the law to avoid detection, but also because it is very much in their interest to get instruction on how to drive as they are as much a danger to themselves as they are to the rest of society when they drive without instruction[3].

Therefore, offering illegal immigrants driver’s licenses will help make the streets safer by giving drivers access to the education and instruction they need to be safe and competent drivers.

[1] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[2] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[3] "Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Aliens." Institute of Governmental Studies. UC Berkeley, n. d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/research/quickhelp/policy/social/immigra...

Counterpoint 

It is very unlikely that illegal immigrants will even opt into this scheme. Illegal immigrants are notoriously paranoid about going to the state for any form of assistance as they are afraid of deportation. The vast majority of them would rather risk getting caught driving without a license then they would risk going to the state as an illegal to receive a license in the first place.

Title 
This allows illegal immigrants to get drivers insurance, which makes safer and fairer roads.
Point 

Insurance is a key component in making the streets safe for all drivers on the road. Allowing illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses allows them to gain driver’s insurance.

Driving absent insurance means that there is an incentive to drive off if you cause an accident to avoid having to pay for the damages you have caused and being criminally punished for driving without insurance. This leaves the other driver having to foot their own bill for the repairs to their vehicles[1].  Moreover, even if the uninsured driver stays at the scene, illegal immigrants are characteristically very poor as they must engage in exploitative work to make a wage because they must hide from the state and do not get the same protections from the state, so would still be unable to pay for the damages they have caused. Moreover, having uninsured drivers on the road increases insurance premiums for all insured drivers on the road, as they have to de-facto pay for the risk and damage these uninsured drivers cause[2].

Therefore, offering illegal immigrants driver’s licenses allows for more fair and accountable systems of insurance and driving conditions on the road.

[1] Confessore, Nicholas, and Danny Hakim. "Licenses for Immigrants Find Suppot." New York Times 09 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/nyregion/09license.html?ref=todayspaper

[2] Confessore, Nicholas, and Danny Hakim. "Licenses for Immigrants Find Suppot." New York Times 09 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/nyregion/09license.html?ref=todayspaper

Counterpoint 

This is a marginal impact at best. The vast majority of illegal immigrants will try to flee the scene of a crash because they would be worried that the police might be called in to investigate the crash and find out they are illegal and therefore deport them. Although this isn’t always a realistic expectation, it is an expectation that most people in the illegal immigrant community have because of their paranoia over the state pursuing them and wanting to deport them. This fear is only exacerbated by the anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric that permeates American society at present and makes them feel that the state will try to seek them out however they can to get rid of them.

Title 
This is a gateway privilege that allows these people to integrate into American society.
Point 

Drivers licenses are used a major form of identification in America and so granting illegal immigrants these forms of identification can help enfranchise one of the most exploited minorities in America.

Despite American feelings on illegal immigrants, they are there in their society, contribute to their communities and are a group of people that are routinely and unjustly exploited because of their lack of access to state protection. Despite popular opinion of this being a punishment for breaking their laws, these people operate like any other citizen in American society and are human beings who deserve to be treated as such and to be offered at least some level of protection for the fact that they are human and for what they contribute to America communities and society.

Providing these people with a proper form of identification, especially a driver’s license, which is almost universally accepted as an adequate form of identification to access services from the state and to interact with the rest of society. Specifically, this allows immigrant communities to not feel as though they are confined to an isolated area as they now can travel further distances to gain better employment without fear of being caught and thrown into jail[1]. Moreover, this allows them access to all services offered by the state that require identification such as voter registration.

Therefore, this helps enfranchise a group that is normally exploited in America society.

[1] "Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Aliens." Institute of Governmental Studies. UC Berkeley, n. d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/research/quickhelp/policy/social/immigra...

Counterpoint 

These people do not deserve to use the services of the USA. They are not citizens, they are law-breakers and society has no obligation to make life easier or more comfortable for those who break the law. Regardless of their contributions to society or the economy, illegal immigrants have broken the law. The consequences of their breaches of the law should be remedied. If necessary, illegal immigrants should be punished in proportion to the harm that their act has caused. Under no circumstances should illegal acts allow these individuals to gain access to the status and legal privileges that citizenship confers.

Title 
This rewards law-breaking.
Point 

This policy rewards those who break the law and therefore is unjustified.

There are immigration policies for a reason, and to skirt them because you do not want to wait in line like everyone else does not entitle you to be treated on the same level as those who adhere to American laws and immigration procedures. Allowing illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses simply because they made it here is just rewarding them for being good at breaking our laws.

We have a moral obligation to continue to deny illegal immigrants the perks of citizenship because they have undermined the very laws and processes that citizenship relies on in America. Moreover, if we simply treat them the same as legal immigrants in our country, there is no deterrent left to stop people from just ignoring our immigrant processes and trying to immigrate illegally to avoid the queue.

Therefore, we shouldn’t give illegal immigrants drivers licenses because that simply rewards law-breaking and undermines the legal system and immigration policy we rely on.

Counterpoint 

There is a very big difference between rewarding people for breaking the law and taking positive action to prevent them being exploited and financially marginalised. The United States’ legal system supposedly exists to protect everyone resident within its borders – not just individuals possessing citizenship. Giving illegal immigrants basic access to very rudimentary things such as the driver’s education does not reward law-breaking or undermine the rule of law. Even if side opposition disagree with granting illegal immigrants any rights, this argument is still defeated by the beneficial consequences of ensuring that a much larger number of drivers have received training on the rules of the road. Under the resolution, America’s highways and cities will generally safer for both pedestrians and other drivers.

On the point of deterrence, there are already very large deterrents to trying to immigrate illegally. The trek is long, dangerous and controlled by violent groups on either side of the border. Bandits and people smugglers engage in robberies and people trafficking on the Mexican side; extremist groups such as the minutemen attempt to assault or shoot immigrants in transit from the American side. Not being able to get a driver’s license once here is not in any way a deterrent that holds any weight when put in context.

Being able to drive is a necessary skill in the US, where under-investment in public transport infrastructure has led to workers developing a dependence on private transport. The weak bargaining position of an immigrant seeking work would be completely undermined if she were unwilling to drive for or to her job. Even the most risk averse migrant labourer accepts that the possibility of being caught driving without a licence is a risk that they have no choice but to take.

Title 
This will foster further resentment of the Hispanic community in America.
Point 

This policy will only further the resentment that exists for illegal immigrants in America, and will make life harder for the entire Hispanic community as a result.

It is no secret that the idea of granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses is a very unpopular idea. In New York, for example, 70% of the electorate is against this policy[1]. Looking to California, not only are drivers licenses out of the question, but in 1994 the state passed a bill denying illegals access to welfare, healthcare and education by a 59% margin[2]. Resentment for the community is high and it is undeniable that this policy will be wildly unpopular with the vast majority of Americans.

The issue with Americans being unhappy with this policy is that they will channel their unhappiness toward all immigrant communities and the Hispanic community more generally. The concept of driver’s licenses especially fuels this hatred because Americans believe that this will allow them to “masquerade” as normal Americans and therefore will assume all Hispanics are these illegals that are masquerading as legal immigrants in their communities. This will only engender more hate and discrimination against these communities.

Therefore, this will seriously harm the Hispanic-American community by fuelling hatred against them in the American majority.

[1] "Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818

[2] "Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Aliens." Institute of Governmental Studies. UC Berkeley, n. d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/research/quickhelp/policy/social/immigra...

Counterpoint 

The state should never allow mob mentality to govern its policies and specifically should never let prejudice of its people allow the state to let exploitation and abuse of human beings go unaddressed. This resentment and assumption that all Hispanics are illegal immigrants leeching from the state is something that is already a perception that permeates US thought. This policy will at worst marginally increase that sentiment, and even if it does, the state has a duty to ignore blind hate and not let it drive state policy.

Title 
This allows illegals to masquerade as normal immigrants.
Point 

Allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses is a security issue for America.

Illegal immigrants are a threat to the US because they have not gone through the necessary background checks that all immigrants are supposed to go through before being allowed into the US to ensure that they are not going to harm American citizens.

Giving illegal immigrants documents that- as proposition argument three says- could grant them access to state services and to a wider range of private services is dangerous[1]. There is no way for frontline state and business staff to determine whether drivers licence holders are migrants who have undergone appropriate police screening, or criminals with a history of dishonest or exploitative behaviour. The resolution may, therefore, allow disreputable individuals to falsely claim to be normalised American citizens.

Alternatively, and more likely, the resolution will undermine the value and utility of state drivers licences – for Latin-American US citizens at the very least. As it becomes known that immigrants from the south bearing licences might be more likely to be dishonest, banks, stores and hospitals will become less willing to accept drivers licences as conclusive proof of a Latin-American individual’s identity.

If the degree to which service providers will trust a driving licence is reduced, the improvements to illegal immigrants’ quality of life that the resolution brings about will be short lived. Moreover, legally resident Latin-Americans will find that their lives become much more difficult. Service providers will adopt a stance of suspicion toward Latin-American individuals, assuming that a Latino-American’s driving licence offers no useful indication as to his immigration status and background. Therefore, this policy constitutes a large security threat to America and its citizens, and a significant danger to the integration and lifestyles of thousands of Latino-American individuals.

[1] "Position Paper: No Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens." News Blaze. Realtime News, 23 Sep 2001. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. http://newsblaze.com/story/20070923120657tsop.nb/topstory.html

Counterpoint 

The first problem with this argument is that it assumes that illegal immigrants are easily identifiable without a driver’s license. It is not like illegal immigrants walk around with a giant red sign that says “Potential Security Threat” at present, and that when we give them licenses they will finally get to put down their signs.

On this basis, the security risk presented by this policy is minimal. Moreover, for what security risk might exist, it is very easily mitigated or gotten rid of all together. For example, if identification is needed for access to something that is vulnerable to security threat, it is very easy for the government or relevant officials to say that the only sufficient form of ID is a passport instead of a license, due to the risk people may pose.

The additional harms identified by side opposition are the result of service providers’ discriminatory practices. Federal and state race equality laws prevent businesses and government employees from refusing service to individuals based on their physical characteristics or ethnicity. Therefore, official discrimination cannot exist. At best, this will simply be soft discrimination.

Bibliography 

Confessore, Nicholas, and Danny Hakim. "Licenses for Immigrants Find Suppot." New York Times 09 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/nyregion/09license.html?ref=todayspaper>.

"Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Aliens." Institute of Governmental Studies. UC Berkeley, n. d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/research/quickhelp/policy/social/immigra....

"Immigration: Let them drive." Economist 25 Oct 2007, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://www.economist.com/node/10024818?story_id=10024818>.

Nelson, Jennifer. "Illegal Immigrant Drivers' Licenses: Here We Go Again." San Francisco Chronicle 21 June 2004, n. pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2004/06/21/....

"Position Paper: No Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens." News Blaze. Realtime News, 23 Sep 2001. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://newsblaze.com/story/20070923120657tsop.nb/topstory.html>.

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