Will Immigrants Find Themselves in the Driver’s Seat?

March 19, 2019. This article discusses the efforts of advocates to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses to protect them from the federal attacks on immigrants. According to the article, lawmakers who support the legislation and advocates argue that expanding access to licenses would benefit local economies, make roads safer, and put an additional barrier between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by reducing their risk of deportation. The author notes that a large support for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants comes from rural areas, where these immigrants work on farms and in meat packing plants. These areas are underserviced or not serviced at all by public transportation and ignored by Uber and Lyft.

A decades-old political debate over whether undocumented people should be allowed to drive has gained new relevance under the Trump administration, as state legislators and advocates work to push back against increased immigration enforcement by the federal government.

Providing undocumented people with licenses could also be a boon for state public transportation and residents already paying for car insurance. In New York, for instance, annual government revenues from car registration and licensing fees, sales tax, and gas tax would increase by $57 million if the state were to expand access, according to an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute. That revenue jump would come from an estimated 265,000 newly certified undocumented drivers in the Empire State. A recent study on the effect expanding access could have in New Jersey also projected significant revenue gains.

Click here for the full article in The American Prospect.

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