The Washington Post today editorializes in favor of giving legal driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. In the process the newspaper makes a misleading argument:
“Polls show that a majority of Americans believe issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants is a bad idea. Many fear that it will tempt more immigrants to enter this country illegally. That’s hokum; people who sneak into the country or overstay their visas do so for jobs, not licenses.”
First, people who sneak into the country or overstay their visas do so for a number of reasons. You need only look so far as September 11th or the original 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center for two obvious examples.
Nonetheless, it is true that most people who exploit our immigration system are doing so to get jobs and make a better life for themselves. However, the Post’s strange assertion that giving legal driver’s licenses to such individuals has nothing to do with their ability to get jobs misses (or simply ignores) the obvious fact that having a driver’s license is a key requirement for most jobs.
The Post is free to call for looser immigration policies. However, it should do so via an accurate debate of the merits. Offering driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants would offer clear incentives for additional illegal immigration. The real debate, the politically charged one that too many editorial writers and politicians refuse to address directly, is whether our immigration laws need to be reformed.
Instead, politicians like Eliot Spitzer of New York prefer the politically popular tact of criticizing the federal government for not enforcing the nation’s immigration laws even while they keep attempting to pass other laws and regulations (like legal driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants) that undermine the federal government’s ability to enforce the immigration laws currently on the books.