October 10, 2008
License to drive

So DPS wants to prevent undocumented immigrants from driving. Good luck with that.

In a clampdown on illegal immigrants, the Texas Department of Public Safety has adopted a new policy requiring noncitizens to prove they are in this country legally before they can obtain or renew a driver's license.

Gov. Rick Perry applauded the change, which went into effect Oct. 1, as a way to strengthen the state's security.

"Texas is a great place to live and work, and while we welcome legally documented individuals to the Lone Star State, we must ensure that this privilege is not abused by those seeking to enter our country illegally," he said.

But Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said the policy change is a bad idea because illegal immigrants are going to drive anyway.

"People have to drive to get to work. You want people to get (auto) insurance. They can't get insurance if they don't have a driver's license," he said.

I predict three things will result from this change in policy. One, as Harrington suggests, we'll see more unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road. Two, the market for high-quality forged drivers licenses will significantly expand. And three, we will see at most a modest reduction in the number of undocumented folks who drive.

It's pretty simple, really. Like the issue of immigration itself, this is largely a matter of supply and demand. People want and need to continue driving, and they will do so regardless of what the law says. If the system becomes an obstacle, they'll work around it. We can wave magic wands all we want, we're not going to change that reality.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 10, 2008 to National news

As a peace officer in the Houston area, I can attest to the fact there is a problem with undocumented workers/illegal aliens operating motor vehicles on the roadways of Texas. What needs to happen is simply tow the vehicle after it is found operating illegally on a public roadway. Sooner or later, the illegal driver will get word that he/she will be walking to work, or relying on public transportation. Hit them in the wallet and make them prove ownership of the vehicle which was towed. Most don't bother titling their vehicles anyway.

Posted by: Don on October 10, 2008 7:39 AM

Don't we have enough unlicensed/uninsured drivers on the road already? I keep thinking of the wreck that Michael and Guppy and Kellie and Tony (I think) were in when we were all in college. Uninsurable drivers are not something we want to encourage.

Posted by: Ginger Stampley on October 10, 2008 8:45 AM
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