To the editor:
On Wednesday, March 5, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation will hold a hearing at the Statehouse on House Bill H.3285, an Act Relative to Safe Driving. This bill, if approved by the committee and ultimately by the Legislature and the governor, would permit the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to those who are in this country illegally. It does so by changing the language of the law on who is eligible for a license by specifying that one cannot be denied such a license if he or she does not have a Social Security number or “evidence of immigration status.”
This bill has nothing to do with safe driving and has everything to do with granting privileges to people who haven’t earned them. It is another move to reward those who have broken the rules and make life and safety more difficult for those of us who abide by the rules.
The attainment of a drivers’ license opens many doors for a law-abiding citizen. For instance, this form of identification allows you to get on an airplane; it allows you to enter a federal building; in some places it may also allow you to register to vote. Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), says it may also be helpful in obtaining a firearms license. Do we really want to make it easier for those who are here illegally to have all this access? Remember that the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001 carried among them over 30 state driver’s licenses and ID cards.
Bill H.3285 also opens up the possibility of other chicanery. What is to stop a convicted child molester or sex offender from changing his name and then going to the registry for a new license? With the new license in hand he could get a job anywhere, and a CORI check would show a clean record since there would be no background information. And if that person was stopped by the police for a traffic violation, the police database would show a clean record with no criminal behavior. At least with the current registry system a Social Security number provides the police with a good chance that the person whose name is on the license is the correct one.
While there doesn’t seem to be anything safe in this bill, the sponsors of it argue that those who are here illegally will be able to get licenses and then purchase insurance, thus making us all better off and potentially safer. But history doesn’t support this. In New Mexico, where drivers’ licenses are granted to those without lawful status, the state has the second highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the nation.
I also want to get back to firearms for a moment. I propose we have a new bill: An Act Relative to Gun Safety. In this bill we would offer gun licenses to those without a Social Security number or regardless of immigration status. Forget the other application requirements too, like “Have you ever used or been known by another name?” Do you think my new bill would make guns safer? Or citizens safer from gun violence?
The twisted logic you see in my Gun Safety Bill is the same as that used by those who are promoting the Safe Driving Bill. Don’t be fooled. Don’t let them get away with it. Call your legislators and tell them to oppose H.3285.