This article by the Chicago Sun-Times discusses the value of issuing state sanctioned identification cards for illegal immigrants.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is using this as a means to bring illegal immigrants from simply passerbys to actual members of the community.
Throughout my legal career from prosecutor to criminal defense attorney to professor, I had to deal with illegal immigration firsthand. I found what is almost cliché, someone is arrested for driving without a valid drivers license (Typically while driving to work), called into court, given the conviction in an almost summary fashion, and let out to go about their day.
For most of its history, America has had a schizophrenic relationship with its immigrants. Illegal or otherwise. Every day this is played out across the country as an almost mundane fight between the ideal of self-determination clashing with the duties of the law-abiding citizen.
Typical situation a person may be given a conviction for driving without a license. After a few of these, they are charged with driving on suspended license. The Secretary of State plays a part in this legal limbo by
- Assigning an illegal immigrant a drivers license number and
- Then promptly suspending that same imaginary number.
I have had clients who have committed no other crime then get stuck with the graveyard shift at work, making them open prey for ticketing police officers, who would rather be chasing down more worthy offenders.
It creates a dangerous situation where
- A driver has a suspended drivers license,
- A driver cannot get insurance,
- A unlicensed, uninsured driver gets into a car accident with a licensed driver carrying liability only
So I’m the one hand we get to have the moral certainty of “never allowing an illegal immigrant to get a license,” But we also have a person who gets to live outside of the system, not even by their own choice.
It’s fascinating to me how the issue of immigration comes out of the shadows every four years only to swiftly get shoved back into the closet due to its complexity and double standards.
If there’s not enough manpower or will to deports all illegal immigrants, then what we all must be much more pragmatic about what to do.
Bring a person into the community, let them be responsible for their good or bad acts. But let go of a narrowminded double standard that harms and punishes innocent and guilty alike.
Here is the article itself:
Last Modified: Oct 13, 2012 05:34PM
LOS ANGELES — Immigrants would get access to banking services in Los Angeles under a proposal by the mayor that would create an official city photo identification card that could also be used as a prepaid ATM card for their private bank account.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says his plan is similar to programs in San Francisco and Oakland, where ID cards are issued to anyone who can prove residency, regardless of immigration status, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/Pte3vK ).
“It will be an official ID,” Villaraigosa told the newspaper. “It will be as strong an effort as San Francisco’s.”
An estimated 4.3 million immigrants live in LA.
Supporters say helping immigrants open bank accounts could reduce crime because fewer people would have to carry cash. An official city ID would also make it easier for many residents to obtain city services and identify themselves to law enforcement officials, they argue.
But critics say the plan is an accommodation to immigrants who are in the country illegally.
“Los Angeles is making it easier for people who have violated federal immigration laws to live in the city,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group critical of illegal immigration.
A City Council committee will discuss the ID card proposal on Tuesday, the Times said.
Card applicants would have to meet “strict” criteria, the mayor’s office told the newspaper. The card, which officials say would look like a student ID, would include a photo, street address, date of birth, hair and eye color, height and weight. Law enforcement agencies could choose whether to recognize the card, and it would not substitute for a driver’s license, the mayor’s office said.
The city would hire an outside vendor who would charge applicants between $10 and $20 to obtain a card, and a few dollars a month for the debit service, which would be optional, the Times said.
Thousands of poor and elderly legal residents who don’t have a driver’s license or other identification would benefit from the program, the mayor’s office told the newspaper.