There seems to be a small but loud chorus of folks decrying legislation for licensing undocumented immigrants as a “slippery slope.”

Jim Krause even tried to suggest reports of an increase in vehicle fatalities in California was caused by undocumented immigrants. This kind of “othering” people, who are our neighbors and part of our community, is disgusting. These are people, folks, so I encourage everyone to remember how to give everyone respect and dignity, something which some in our community routinely fail to do when confronted with people who are of a different culture and skin tone.

The statements by Krause and others amount to fear mongering, and nothing else. If we take out the hyperbole, emotional irrational response, and the disrespect for our neighbors, there is nothing in the concept of providing drivers licenses to everyone on our roads that should be a problem. We need to make sure everyone knows the rules of the road here in Minnesota. If I as a transplant from another state is forced to re-take the written exam to get a drivers license in Minnesota (compared to every other state I have lived in which followed reciprocity), there should be no problems with allowing those who are residing here regardless of their immigration status the opportunity to take the tests, be licensed and become identified in our community. Locally licensed and insured drivers are safer.

When immigrants are fully accepted by their community and treated as equals, immigrants flourish. When we take the time to learn the root cause of immigration, we start to see the real solutions. People come to America to seek safety, a better life and economic prosperity, something that is not present in their home countries often due to American foreign policy. Like it or not, our foreign policy is the driving force here. Want to change immigration? Change foreign policy.

If there is a slippery slope here to be worried about, it’s the slope of how some in our community feel they are entitled to treat others as less than because of their skin color, language, religion and heritage. Ever notice how no one questions the immigration status of a white Canadian or European, ever? As Macklemore stated in White Privilege II: “It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist, than we actually are with racism.” It’s time to be concerned with the racism, especially the dog-whistles and smoke-screens of “concerned citizens.”

I hope the good people of Shakopee will stand up and say once and for all that racism and xenophobia are not welcome in our community. Shakopee is better because of our diversity. Let’s stop being afraid of our neighbors and instead be a welcoming community. If we want to debate the merits of drivers licensing regulations, then let’s debate the merits of licensing regulations: not the hyperbolic fear-driven “what-if” troupes. The drivers license legislation addresses these what-ifs, and there are no reasons to object to it.

Bradly McGarr is a technology assistant at Red Oak Elementary School and serves on the Parks, Recreation, Trails & Open Space Steering Committee for the city of Shakopee. He ran for the Shakopee City Council last year.

South regional editor

Deena is the regional editor for Shakopee, Jordan, Prior Lake and Savage and is passionate about uncovering the truth. Deena also enjoys gardening, playing tennis and up-cycling furniture.

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