So far, some eight states have approved allowing driver's licenses for illegal immigrants (Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Illinois, and of course, California). Kentucky is trying to become number nine. Democratic legislators have introduced House Bill 396 which would allow illegal immigrants the opportunity to apply for a driver's permit (either given in their native language or with a translator they provide), and if they successfully pass the written portion (also given in either their native language or with the help of a personally provided translator) and then go on to pass the driving portion (with someone in the car with the driver to, again, "translate"); a privilege now afforded only to legal residents of the US and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Gone would be another legal barrier to follow existing, but often ignored or unenforced state and federal laws; thus blurring the distinction between legal and illegal residency.
Currently, most illegal immigrants are flocking to Washington, Utah, and New Mexico, which have become meccas for fraudulent document brokers, human smugglers, and other criminal elements. While Maryland is considered allowing illegal aliens the opportunity to obtain a driver's license, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has expressed deep concern over granting legitimacy to individuals who are in violation of US laws, has indicted that she will begin taking steps to revoke the 2003 state laws. Meanwhile, states which has enacted tougher laws in general against illegal immigrants, have seen substantial drops in applications, along with an exodus of individuals thought to be in the state illegally. With this, there has also been drops in applications for taxpayer based programs. The result being considerable savings to taxpayers. Meanwhile, other states, such North Carolina, which originally considered allowing driver's licenses being issued, have now reversed direction, and will require proof of residency in the future. Their license currently includes a pink stripe to indicates the holder's may not use the license as a valid form of identification.
In most states, including Kentucky, all drivers are required to obtain and keep current auto insurance. In Illinois, a state which mandates auto insurance for instance, there are approximately 250,000 illegal immigrants currently on the road. There is an estimated 80,000 accidents caused by uninsured illegal immigrants, resulting in $660 million dollars in damage according to the Highway Safety Coalition as reported in a article in Yahoo! News dated January 27, 2013. According to a Los Angeles Times article dated January 16, 2013 by Ben Poston, illegal immigrants are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident according to a report by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. California has the highest number of illegal immigrants. This, of course, begs the question: how will states enforce their mandatory insurance laws given the nature of driver's illegal, and often transitory status as well as language barriers since many illegal immigrants refuse to learn English? The result will likely lead to higher insurance rates for drivers in general as costs are merely passed along to cover the damaged caused by uninsured drivers.
Then there is the nature of the drivers license itself. Most states (and even the federal government) accepts driver's licenses as legal identification cards. This in itself allows the holder to easier access to renting apartments, obtaining jobs by providing proof of identity on I-9 forms, applying for grants and taxpayer based services, opening banking and savings accounts, cashing checks, buying guns or airplane tickets, renting cars, entering secure buildings such as court houses, obtaining prescriptions, and much more. In short, the line becomes blurred between legal and illegal status. So, who are some of those pushing for the "all-but-legal" status of illegal immigrants?
Well, to be sure, most are liberals and mostly Democrat. However, many are also religious groups. In Connecticut for instance, the leading group is Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut ("CONECT"), which is allegedly comprised of some 200 activists and based in New Haven. In Kentucky, it's Kentucky Jobs with Justice located in Louisville and the Kentucky Council of Churches, which is in Lexington and, of course, the Kentucky ACLU.
Kentucky residents opposed to House Bill 396, are encouraged to call the toll free number 1-800-372-7181 to voice their disapproval. They are also strongly encouraged to click onto the House Bill link below to go to the home pages of the bill's sponsors to register their disapproval. However, Kentucky residents are urged to do so quickly before the bill moves on.
Can Illegal Immigrants Get Auto Insurance?
Should Illegal Immigrants be able to obtain a Driver's License in the US?
Pink Strip of NC driver's license for illegal immigrants
2013 Kentucky House Bill 396