Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Editorial: drivers license is wrong tool for immigration enforcement

"Gov. Phil Bredesen's new two-tier driver's license system aims to help boost national security."

"Opponents of the legislation who want Tennessee to demand Social Security numbers as proof to obtain a driver's license want to stop illegal immigration."

"Neither approach is likely to eliminate the problem of illegal immigration, but the governor's approach may at least satisfy the need to test all drivers and get them insured. The governor has proposed that the state issue certificates to immigrants who cannot prove they are here legally."

"Opponents call the driver safety issue bogus, and they say the change in the law has led to illegal immigrants seeking driver's licenses from Tennessee. However, the implementation of the law as a tool to catch illegal immigrants is faulty. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is in the business of safety on the highways. They can stop an illegal resident for speeding, but they can't stop him or her for being in the United States illegally."

"Public safety should always remain paramount in this discussion. Most Tennesseans aren't going to care where someone comes from when they're broad-sided by an automobile. They should want to know whether Tennessee has licensed the driver and whether the driver has insurance. The debate over immigration status belongs somewhere else."

The Tennessean

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