Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Illegal immigrants, unlicensed drivers: A problem in search of a solution -

Illegal immigrants, unlicensed drivers: A problem in search of a solution -

It's a common Southern California story — collisions with drivers who have no license because their illegal immigration status prohibits them from receiving one. This wasn't the case until 1994. Before then, the state had its own "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Applicants for a license had to be insured, but they weren't required to offer proof of legal residency.

The new get-tough-on-immigrants law didn't result in people returning to their native countries. Rather, it led to a boom in the number of unlicensed drivers. For the past several years, legislation has been offered to allow licenses for illegal immigrants, and each year, the legislation has been vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — even when it called for licenses to be clearly labeled with the driver's immigration status.

I'm not exactly sorry that Jorge got into so much trouble. He deserves to face the consequences of his actions, which included breaking the law every time he drove. Yet the truck was insured. He pulled over and explained the situation honestly instead of driving off. He was trying to do the right thing, except for the right thing he couldn't do — get a license. That would require learning how to drive properly and passing a test. His history also makes it harder for his brother to buy insurance from a more reputable company. How is this protecting everyone else on the road?

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