EDITORIAL: Driver's license is wrong turn on immigration

2013-01-20T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Driver's license is wrong turn on immigration nwitimes.com
January 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

State Sen. Frank Mrvan's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, like a similar plan in Illinois, opens a real can of worms.

Mrvan, D-Hammond, hopes the roads will be safer if illegal immigrants get driver's licenses and insurance. Getting a license means proving the ability to drive well. And insurance would protect other drivers.

Mrvan said having licenses available to the state's estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants would ensure all motorists on Indiana know the rules of the road and how to properly operate a vehicle.

"I personally can't see why anyone would vote against it," Mrvan said. "Of course, a certain population is going to go crazy, and I anticipate that."

But what person in the United States illegally -- whether overstaying a welcome after a visa expired or having entered without permission -- would eagerly identify himself as a criminal in order to get a government-issued photo ID?

We understand the many concerns associated with illegal immigration. There are complaints about people here illegally not paying their fair share for education, health care and other facets of everyday life in the United States. Ultimately, those complaints come down to a matter of fairness. There is also talk about how difficult it is to enter the United States. These are all arguments that should be heard and discussed.

But immigration isn't a problem that should be solved at the state level. It's a federal responsibility.

We recognize the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., makes it difficult to address major problems like this. The Dream Act, for example, would have created a path to citizenship for children whose parents brought them here illegally, but even that reform could not pass though a highly partisan Congress.

But Congress is where the solution lies. There must be a national solution to the immigration problem that continues to plague the United States. That probably includes use of E-Verify or a similar system for verifying the legal status of individuals applying for work in the United States as well as addressing the immigration quotas now in place.

All of this makes issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants the wrong approach.

Solve the immigration problem in Congress, not the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. And if Congress won't end the political gridlock, the voters have the solution in their own hands.

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