California Governor Gray Davis' veto of a driver's license bill for illegal aliens triggered the predictable whining from the usual cast of characters.
Equally predictable was the one-dimensional, sophomoric journalism "covering" the issue. Someone—editors, perhaps—should point out to Sacramento beat reporters that California politics doesn't begin and end with the Latino Caucus wish list.
Lead bellyacher Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles and author of AB 60 charged that Davis made his decision based on "xenophobia, hysteria and segregation."
Maria Blanco, national counsel for MALDEF, said Davis' decision "shocked" her. Said Blanco,
"It's the number one thing on people's minds. The perception is 'Why?' We need this. We drive. What does it take to do the right thing?"
Blanco has asked an excellent question.
Permit me to answer.
The right thing would be to come into the U.S. legally.
What Cedillo and MALDEF want is for people who have probably committed a minimum of three felonies to be rewarded with driver's licenses:
Felony #1: illegal entry into the U.S.;
Felony #2: purchasing fraudulent documents to secure employment;
Felony #3: misrepresenting the legality of those documents at the workplace.
Granting driver's licenses under those conditions would be a kind of reverse trifecta: commit three crimes and you hit the jackpot.
As usual, the illegals cases is presented only in the most glowing light. Mike Garcia, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 said that Davis ignores the illegal alien's role in the California economy. "You take the undocumented work force out of the economy, the economy collapses," said Garcia.
This often-quoted statement is never challenged even though it would not stand up under scrutiny. You can count on reading it over and over again—in the driver's license debate and other controversies—because it meshes so well with the preconceived notion that only good things come from unlimited mass immigration.
Illegal immigration advocates have introduced one interesting new twist, vapid though it is, into their crusade for licenses. Since illegal immigrants are driving anyway, the argument goes, they should get be required to take and pass tests. And having licenses will prompt the drivers to purchase insurance.
That's creative but total nonsense. Even if the driver gets insurance, it can be cancelled immediately after the license is issued.
Granting driver's licenses to people illegally in the U.S. creates grave danger—not safety.
Commissioner Charlie Weaver of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety made the following analysis of the so-called safety issue of driver's licenses to illegal aliens:
"Advocates argue that they want to give drivers licenses to illegal immigrants so they will be safer drivers. This argument is completely without merit and is a transparent attempt to turn the illegal immigrant problem into a public safety issue. There is no evidence that if illegal immigrants received driver's licenses, they would enroll in driver education programs, obtain insurance, and refrain from fleeing the scene of an accident. Common sense dictates that an individual on the run from the law would not wait around at an accident site for the police to arrive."
Above and beyond the obvious concerns, the driver's license is our de facto national identity card. In light of 9/11, we cannot be issuing them willy-nilly to anyone who has a hankering to drive.
What we need to do, instead, is treat them like domestic passports.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (www.aamva.com) has a list of recommendations for making driver license issuance more secure. The list does not include giving licenses to illegal aliens.
Each state has its own standards for licensing drivers and each has different identification requirements. In total, more than 200 ID forms are accepted nationwide. The AAMVA calls for uniform residency standard for all 50 states and secure identification credentials in order to get a driver's license.
According to the AAMVA, motor vehicle officials fear that, without a more streamlined process, terrorists and others with criminal intent will explore the system looking for the state with the biggest loopholes.
"Unscrupulous individuals shop for the easiest and fastest way to get a license," said Betty Serian, head of the AAMVA's Security Task Force. "They find the loopholes and they put you and me at risk. And without changes to our current business practices, we cannot be assured that everyone presenting a driver's license is who they say they are."
In light of 9/11, the Latino Caucus should have promoted an attitude more supportive of the collective good. Instead, it continued on its divisive path regardless of the stakes.
Special Joe Guzzardi Note to VDARE.COM Readers: Have you ever seen such ninnies and whiners as the Latino Caucus? Because Davis vetoed the driver's license bill, the Caucus claims it will withhold its support from him this November.
And do what? Back Bill Simon?
By any measure, 2002 has been a triumphant year for the Caucus. Among its accomplishments are a bill granting in-state university tuition for qualifying high-school students even though they are in the U.S. illegally, a bill giving increased bargaining power to the United Farm Workers and the growing acceptance of the Matricula Consular cards. These cards, if the State Department ever got around to making an investigation, would in all likelihood be declared null and void. Even in a post-9/11 environment, Latino issues continue to steamroll logic with no let up in sight.
But on driver's licenses—the one issue on which Davis could not afford to cave in—the Caucus still raised a big stink.
Some people are never satisfied!
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.