Don’t Let Immigration Views Stand In the Way of Safer Roads

Senate Bill 833, ORegon auto insurance laws, immigrants can get drivers licenses
A artist rendering of the Oregon driver’s license on display at the North Salem Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. / TIMOTHY J. GONZALEZ / Statesman Journal file

So glad the “Driver’s Card” Bill passed. The bill creates a “driver’s card” that is like a driver’s license except that it can be used for driving ONLY. It cannot be used, for example, to board airplanes, or gain entrance to federal buildings.

I support this bill on public safety grounds, and regardless of your views on immigration, you should too. The reason that we require all drivers to have mandatory insurance coverage is to protect the innocent people that they may hit when driving. It’s not to protect the bad driver who caused the crash; it’s to protect the good driver who gets rear-ended, or the pedestrian who gets run over. Well, the same argument supports the creation of a driver’s card.

The article estimates that 84,000 people will get this card in Oregon in the first three-quarters of 2014. That’s 84,000 people who will have to pass a driving test before they drive, and 84,000 people who will be driving legally instead of illegally, and will therefore have insurance. That is going to make all the rest of us on the roads safer.

As for the counter-argument, it’s hard to know exactly what it is. I can quote Daryl Miller, one of the Top Commenters on the Stateman Journal website, from his comment on this article: “They are not Oregonians! They are illegal immigrants! In this country illegally! Why do they get welfare? Why do they get food stamps? Why do they get free cellphones? Why should they get Oregon driver’s licenses? They are criminals! They are NOT Oregonians!” I suppose that sums up the “against” argument pretty well.

Look, I understand that anti-immigration folks would rather send people back to their home countries than issue them drivers cards. But they should understand that this bill, Senate Bill 833, does nothing to prevent sending anyone back to their home countries. Whether that’s a totally unrealistic pipe-dream, or whether it is actually going to happen, this bill won’t affect the likelihood either way. In the meantime, let’s all make the roads a little bit safer, shall we?

Good work, legislators.