Friday, January 28, 2005

Driving Down a Wrong-Way Street

We know how Mark Hyman feels about undocumented immigrants who come to the United States to make new lives, find new jobs, and provide better futures for their children: he calls them terrorists and "riff-raff."

In his latest commentary, Hyman again focuses on the issue of undocumented immigrants, this time asserting that we need to keep them from getting their hands on driver’s licenses, lest they do something “dangerous.”

But Hyman and those who agree with him labor under a misunderstanding; laws that prohibit undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses do a great deal of damage and do nothing constructive in addressing the issue of immigration.

First, no one seriously believes that prohibiting undocumented immigrants from getting a driver’s license will stop even one person from making the decision to cross the border. These are people who willingly risk their lives to come to the United States. Attempting to stem the tide by refusing them a particular official document won’t work.

Given that undocumented immigrants are arriving here anyway, it’s to the benefit of everyone to make the best of the situation. Issuing driver’s licenses means that there will be an official government record of these individuals, they will be able to have car insurance, they will be able to take on a wider variety of jobs, and the already overworked folks at the DMV won’t be forced into becoming part-time immigration officials. Unless you want to stand in longer lines than you already do when waiting to renew your license, don’t make their job any more complex than it already is.

Undocumented immigrants who aren’t allowed driver’s licenses will be more likely to cost the rest of us more money in insurance premiums and to be involved in hit and run accidents.

Moreover, despite the attempt to manufacture an image of the average undocumented immigrant as a drain on our economy (or, even worse, as a threat to our national security), statistics show that such immigrants contribute far more money to the economy than they take. Much of California’s economy, for example, would come to an abrupt halt if all undocumented immigrants suddenly vanished. For better or worse, undocumented immigrants are a godsend for business owners in that they offer cheap and plentiful labor, willingly toiling away at jobs few Americans would take on.

Add to this the questionable legality of denying licenses to undocumented immigrants, and you have a proposal that is as unworkable as it is counterproductive, and one that will create undesirable effects that proponents seem unable to fathom.

The bottom line is that whether you believe undocumented immigration is the single biggest threat to our national wellbeing, an utter non-issue, or anywhere in between, there is no reason to believe refusing immigrants driver’s licenses will do anything to help the situation, and a great deal of evidence that it will make life harder for not only the immigrants themselves, but for the rest of us who profit, directly or indirectly, from their labor.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Everything you said is correct, but for these Neo-Facists the drivers license security issue is just a smoke-screen. When Dim-Son (Dubya) gets his guest worker legislation through Congress they'll be more than happy to issue them all drivers licenses!

This gives them an unlimited supply of cheap labor that will help them to drive the wages of American workers down even more, without having to worry about those pesky issues like minimum wage, citizenship, voting rights, health care, unemployment or any other morality issues of social responsibility.

If these idiots thought that they could get away with repealing the minimum wage laws and paying people even less, they would! What am I saying - Maybe they can!

Thanks, and keep bustin' Hymen! (Hyman)
Mike B. in SC


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