Anytime the term “undocumented immigrant” or “illegal alien” is brought up, something strange happens. Angry, xenophobic rhetoric is communicated without a hint of shame by the fearful few who feel as if each immigrating resident is a personal attack on the dominant culture.
Good samaritans that would normally give you the coat off their back seem to clam up and slam the door shut on any legislation that might make life easier for those that have the audacity to come to this country seeking happiness and economic opportunity for their families. Unfortunately, this angry beast of prejudice has reared its head again as a response to the sensible law “Driver’s Licenses for All” that House Rep. Brad Tabke is supporting.
First, let’s start with the facts, after all, unscientific surveys that include the pitchfork mob filled with non-Shakopee residents on a private Facebook page is not really a great place to find source material.
Immigration is a federal law, not a state law. Each state is left to legislate the treatment of immigrants according to their constituents. Offering this opportunity for those here without documentation to drive insured, safely, and licensed is no more illegal than a Minnesotan using marijuana for health reasons; after all, federally, pot is still illegal. Also, this law is not allowing those without ID to get drivers licenses. The applicant must show some sort of identification from their home country to obtain this license.
Furthermore, this does not provide any more or less “sanctuary” status than the undocumented resident already has. It merely affords the individual the right to obtain car insurance and drive on the road safely. Not to mention the revenue the state will be provided through the fees.
Finally, adding drivers licenses will encourage more work production and a strong economy, especially when undocumented residents actually contribute an estimated 11.6 billion a year to the economy, not to mention the untold billions added in sales tax.
Now it’s not as if Minnesota will break new ground in this legislative action. The other states that have gone down this path have seen positive results. Insurance premiums have gone down, the economy is benefited by having residents remain employed rather than live off the government, and unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to be in a fatal accident. In fact, California saw a 10 percent decrease in hit and run accidents. New Mexico saw a rate of uninsured motorists drop from 33 percent to 9 percent while generating $500 million in new revenue. Clearly, the overall impact to the states that have approved this legislation has been positive.
There is a vocal minority in Shakopee who can be found online, using their keyboard warrior skills to fight this legislation through the typical name calling accusations and factless arguments about law and order, but what they fail to mention is exactly how they personally will be affected by this law in a negative way. It’s because they won’t. The vast majority of undocumented residents are people that just want to live their life, raise their families, and pursue happiness in peace. They are well-meaning residents who already have jobs in this country, who go to school with your children, who sit next to you in church, all while living in fear every day when they get in their cars to drive. All this law does is take away just an ounce of the daily anxiety that is felt from this population.
I am glad that I voted for and reside in a community where my representative, Brad Tabke, understands this and will do the right thing by supporting this legislation.