- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Driver’s licenses for illegals spark another debate
Supporters tout the fiscal benefits for Maryland; opponents cite undeserved privilege
A year after giving many of Maryland’s illegal immigrants the right to in-state college tuition, some state lawmakers want to give them improved access to driver’s licenses in a move that supporters say could have fiscal benefits and would bring residents in the state illegally out of the shadows.
A bill in this year’s General Assembly effectively would repeal the state’s 2009 law that bars new driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and others who are unable to document their citizenship.
Maryland would join a handful of states that allow licenses for undocumented immigrants. Supporters of the plan say that immigrants often have no choice but to drive because of family and work obligations, and that denying them licenses does more harm than good by putting more unlicensed and uninsured motorists on the road.
“I believe this is for the good of the state of Maryland,” Sen. Victor R. Ramirez, Prince George’s Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said. “It would help protect our highways and roads in the state of Maryland, and it would help law enforcement identify people more readily and faster.”
If the bill passes, Maryland would join Washington, New Mexico and Illinois — which passed its law last month — as states that allow driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Utah allows a special driving privilege card, while many other states, including Maryland and Virginia, have said they will begin allowing licenses for young illegal immigrants who qualify for the work waivers being implemented by the Obama administration.
Mr. Ramirez’s legislation would allow residents who can’t prove their citizenship to obtain a special license that would allow them to drive but would not be an acceptable form of identification in other venues such as airports and federal buildings.
Maryland explicitly outlawed licenses for illegal immigrants in 2009, when lawmakers passed legislation to help the state comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, which sought to place tighter regulations on state driver’s licenses but has since been caught in delays and implemented by few states.
The state’s law included a grandfather clause that allowed illegal immigrants and other undocumented residents who had licenses at the time of the law’s passage to keep them until July 2015.
Opponents of Mr. Ramirez’s bill argue that it affords another privilege to residents who aren’t legally in the country and that it could decrease their incentive to seek proper citizenship.
But supporters contend that banning licenses accomplishes nothing and just leads many people to drive without insurance or proper training. The result is more accidents, which can escalate to hit-and-runs if the driver fears being caught without a license, and to higher insurance costs for law-abiding drivers.
They also say the plan could bring the state $7 million a year in additional driver’s fees and that IDs could help police to keep track of illegal immigrants and find any potential criminal histories.
“We know that a large number of those people without proper documentation to be in the country are, in fact, driving,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett, a Democrat. “They carry their kids to school, they work, they attend a large number of activities.”
The proposal has solid support in both chambers of the assembly, with 15 of 47 senators co-sponsoring the Senate version and 60 of the House’s 141 delegates lending their names to their version of the bill. All sponsors are Democrats.
But Republicans and even some Democrats worry that the proposal could backfire and make Maryland a more attractive draw for new illegal residents, just as New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, says has happened in her state.
“This takes away the incentive to become legal,” said Maryland Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford Republican. “That’s another hurdle that now they won’t have to jump through.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- 'Blarney Blowout' near UMass results in 73 arrests; 4 officers injured
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again