Should We Grant Driver’s Licenses to All?

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Should We Grant Driver’s Licenses to All?

Gia Shin, Staff Writer

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On November 7 outside of the Capitol building in Trenton, New Jersey, over 400 people participated in a rally protesting for undocumented immigrants’ right to obtain driver’s licenses. So far, Connecticut, California, and ten other states alongside Washington, D.C. offer driving privileges without proof of immigration status.

According to SC Times, proponents of the bill argue that passing it would boost the economy, since those with licenses “would buy car insurance, gasoline, and auto parts.” They add on by explaining that many undocumented immigrants struggle daily due to not having a personal, accessible vehicle: they have to take their children to school and go to work themselves. These immigrants live in constant fear of the ICE, of being deported, and of being separated from their families.

With the benefits of passing the bill, however, comes a set of drawbacks. Opponents fear that, once passed, the legislation may prioritize illegal immigrants. It may also reward immigrants without legal status when they carry out illicit acts. There have been several cases of undocumented immigrants forging counterfeit licenses. Maryland, for example, started expanding access to driver’s licenses in 2014. According to Northjersey.com, “an audit of the Motor Vehicle Administration a few years later found that 826 driver’s licenses and identification cards had been issued in a six-month period to people who had presented counterfeit documentation.”

Protesters outside Capital in Trenton.

Opponents fear that roads will be less maintained and more unsafe, but research from Stanford Graduate School of Business proves otherwise. When California granted driver’s licenses to more than 800,000 unauthorized immigrants, a decrease in the likelihood of hit-and-run accidents was shown. The policy made the roads safer and reduced overall costs for California drivers. Hans Lueders, a graduate of the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab, claimed in Stanford’s Insights publication, “We don’t find a negative effect at all. It suggests these policies can have positive effects on traffic safety. If drivers at an accident remain on the scene, they can be held responsible and pay for the damage.”

The push to grant driver’s licenses to all is now greater than ever. Add your voice at https://www.letsdrivenj.org/call.