Illinois' legislature has approved SB 957, a bill which requires anyone driving to get a license and insurance, including those in the country illegally. The primary argument for the legislation is to benefit public safety. We know that laws banning illegally present immigrants from getting drivers licenses don't stop people driving. It just causes them to drive without a license and, often, without learning the rules of the road. Banning drivers licenses for those here without a legal status are designed more to punish and encourage "self-deportation".
Not surprisingly, FAIR, the anti-immigrant organization, is on a campaign to get Illinois governor Pat Quinn to veto the bill. And they are arguing that public safety actually benefits when we bar illegally present immigrants from getting drivers licenses. They argue that terrorists might get licenses and endanger the public. The argument is silly. A terrorist is hardly concerned with complying with the law and if he or she is inclined to use a car in the commission of a terrorist act, would the lack of a drivers license really deter them.
The Reverend Tony Pierce nicely sums up the arguments for the bill:
■ Police will be able to use licenses to identify motorists during stops and check their traffic records.
■ Licensing all drivers will help first responders and health care providers to identify patients under their care.
■ Drivers will be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident to aid police and emergency workers and to exchange insurance information with affected motorists.
■ It will limit court time and lessen the burden on jails with cases of drivers who are there solely for driving without a license or insurance.
■ As more drivers get insured, the numbers of accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, the costs of such accidents will decline, and insurance rates will fall for everyone.
■ It will increase the pool of urgently needed organ donors.
■ SB 957 will prevent fraud and dry up some black market activities.