Bill Proposes Illegals Be Allowed to Drive Legally in NJ – Good Idea? [POLL]
Can I guess what your automatic response to the above-posed question will be? I think I know.
Probably because it has to do with the word “illegal” – as in illegal immigrant.
Children of illegals who were brought there when young and have been in the country for a while now have the ability to attend college paying an in-state rate – according to the recently enacted legislation signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
You may be thinking, “what next?”
This is probably the logical “what next?” leap.
Under the measure, New Jersey would be required to issue photo “driving privilege” cards to residents who could not prove that they were in this country legally but were able to show they lived in the state.
“It’s about public safety,” said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a sponsor. “Some of the undocumented are driving anyway. This isn’t to excuse the fact that they’re undocumented. But they’re on the roads. They’re driving. Many uninsured.”
While a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie declined to comment, the measure is certain to face significant opposition among Republican lawmakers.
The newest version of the driving bill (A2135) was introduced in the Senate in late February by Vitale and Teresa Ruiz (D-Middlesex) and in the Assembly in January by Annette Quijano and Joseph Cryan (both D-Union).
While the prospects for the measure are uncertain, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) is open to the idea.
“This concept is something I’ve been considering, mainly as a public safety measure to ensure more immigrants get proper certification before driving and purchase auto insurance,” said Prieto (D-Hudson), who immigrated to the United States from Cuba at age 11. “But I want to learn how other states are doing this before deciding whether to post a bill for a vote.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) plans to meet with advocates on the issue, according to his spokesman, Chris Donnelly.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) said he’s opposed to the measure.
“Just because some people are out there flouting the law does not mean that we should acknowledge it,” Carroll said. “From my perspective, I have never quite grasped why it’s so difficult, impossible or inhumane to say to people who are here illegally, go home. If you’re here illegally, go home.”
Under current state law, immigrants must at least have temporary visa status to get a driver’s license.
The legislation being considered goes further than any previous New Jersey bills by including a clause that would charge officials who discriminate against card holders with deprivation of civil rights, punishable by up to three to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $15,000.
Immigrants who provide false documentation to get the cards would face fines of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison. Under the bill, the cards would be valid for one year and applicants would have to pay an additional fee on top of what citizens have to pay for driver’s licenses for the first five years of the program. The Motor Vehicle Commission would determine the documentation needed.
Eleven states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed laws allowing immigrants to legally drive, according to the National Immigration Law Center. On the other hand, two states have enacted laws banning young people who fall under Obama’s executive order from driving.
Here’s the problem as I see it.
Many illegals here are driving here without valid licenses; which means no insurance. Ask anyone who’s been involved in an accident with someone here illegally and they’ll tell you the impossibility of dealing with your insurer once that happens. The burden of recouping for damages falls on you, the legal citizen. And to top it off, your rates get jacked up.
We seem to have thrown in the towel on the issue of immigration reform – in that we have a patchwork approach to the problem of how to deal with the thousands of illegals here already.
I side with those who feel it would be a matter of public safety to allow illegals to obtain some sort of driving permit. I’d propose, were it possible, to first have them obtain the proper insurance; then produce whatever documents needed to get the drivers permit, and, as stated above, have it renewable every year – using the same list of documents to verify their identity. And charge an additional fee for the permit
Those opposed to such a proposal aren’t dealing in reality. Illegals here already are driving without some sort of document – and no insurance.
And ICE isn’t in any hurry to deport them anytime soon.
A driver’s permit requiring proof of insurance and identity makes the most sense.