There it was again in the newspaper last week — a throw away line about immigration and drivers licenses in a larger article about immigration and border patrols between Mexico and Arizona. Governor Richardson of Arizona said “I have the most migrant-friendly state” as he cited a policy of issuing drivers licenses without regard to immigration status. Now, what I can’t understand is why immigration status has any thing to do with being a safe driver, which is what a driver’s license is supposed to make sure you are. If you are a pedestrian, bicyclist or even another car driver, wouldn’t you rather be concerned with how safely the driver in the lane next to you is operating their vehicle rather than whether or not they are living in the US legally? The fact that many people use their drivers license as identification has nothing to do with why drivers licenses were required in the first place.
A number of years ago, California had a ballot measure that would have denied public health services to undocumented residents. Public health workers argued and protested against implementation of the measure, I think successfully, because they realized that infectious diseases do not care whether they are being passed from legal residents or non-legal residents. Medical experts have probably never seen an infection virus that asked for legal resident documentation before settling in to cause serious illness.
Identify theft and concerns about terrorists infiltrating our country are hot topics in media today. Identify theft is one issue. But does anyone really think that a person who has come to the US to blow up a building is really worried about whether or not they have a drivers license? Besides, I’ll bet Timothy McVeigh who was a legal US citizen showed his drivers license to rent a truck before he filled it with explosives and drove to the Oklahoma City Federal Building. A drivers license does not prove that some one is unhinged.
Back to Arizona Governor Richardson and his migrant friendly policy. Checking the DMV websites of both Oregon and Arizona, both states ask for similar documentation. Proof of who you are in the form of one or two specific pieces of identification and one or two items from a secondary list of possible documents. The lists look to be the same to me. Neither list states that one must have a legal immigration status or be a US citizen in order to take the test to make sure you know how to drive safely and carry a drivers license. Makes sense to me.