Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Driving Licenses for some Illegal Immigrants

Our California lawmakers approved a bill to allow some young illegal immigrants (those who came to the United States as children) to obtain driving licenses. 

The bill, which passed the state Assembly by a 55-15 vote before being sent to the desk of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, was introduced after the announcement of a federal program to relax deportation rules and grant some young immigrants temporary legal status in the United States.

"It is a victory for those who were brought here through no fault of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society," the bill's sponsor, Assembly member Gilbert Cedillo, said in a statement

Now, here is where I think I will probably surprise some of you. I have decided that his is actually a pretty good idea.

OK, before you pull out the torches and pitch forks, let me explain.

Illegal Immigration is a problem in this country but it is not THE problem. The problem is Immigration -the whole system. The entire mess has evolved into a ridiculously long, complicated process, chock full of red tape and large fees (it costs someone on a student visa $420 a year to get a permit to work part time). Waiting times in other countries can cost tens of thousands of dollars and  take five years or more.

Our system does not welcome immigrants, it discourages them. And since we do not penalize illegal immigrants, well. what would you do?

Look, we are a nation of immigrants. One of the beautiful things about this country is all of the people coming here, looking for freedom and a better life, blending cultures and working together. When I say we are a nation of immigrants, it isn't just a hasty generalization. Unless you happen to be Native American (Indian) or have Native American Blood (about 1 in 200 Americans), your forefathers came here from somewhere else, period. So you or your father or grandfather, or maybe a few generations before that, were immigrants at some point. So we, Americans, have an instinctive empathy and sympathy for our new immigrants -and we want to see them succeed, be free and integrate into this wonderful American culture.

As for the problem of illegal immigrants, I don't know how that is going to get resolved, but taking the kids, who were brought here without any say in it, who have grown up here, who have already become Americans in heart and mind -this seems like a good, humane way of dealing with them for now. Giving them a license to drive also makes them responsible for that driving. It means they have to have insurance and are far less likely to run off or escape responsibility for driving violations. That protects all of us -and it treats them as decent human beings. Where is the bad side of that?

Harry Reid tried to ram a Democrat version of the "Dream Act" through the Senate. If he had not tried to bully it through, he may have gotten a compromised version passed. But he did not try to compromise and he failed. President Obama has by-passed the Congress and tried to resolve the problem through an Executive Order. That too will fail, because it is probably  unconstitutional and it did not give the democratic process a chance. Mario Rubio is crafting a Republican version of the Dream Act -and I have high hopes it will pass, and soon. But that will be only the beginning. The entire Immigration system needs to be reviewed and made more realistic and enforceable -then it needs to be enforced. In the meanwhile, bills like this one help -but even this will not help long if the southern border is not secured -something no President has had enough resolve to do yet.

Live Long and Prosper...

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