Top Law Enforcement Official: Preventing Undocumented Immigrants from Having Driver’s Licenses is Bad Policy

“Why wouldn’t you want to put people through a rigorous testing process? Why wouldn’t you want to better identify people who are going to be here?”

                                                   -LAPD Chief Charlie Beck

The Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, the third largest police force in the country, says that California should join New Mexico and provide driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens.  Los Angeles, California is home to more than twice the population of the entire state of New Mexico, including a much higher number of undocumented immigrants.

Chief Beck calls issuing provisional driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, “a matter of public safety”. Such licenses, he says, would reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents while ensuring that people on the road are capable drivers.

According to Chief Beck, undocumented aliens make up a disproportionate percentage of the California’s unlicensed drivers.  Issuing provisional licenses significantly reduces the number of unlicensed drivers, making the roads safer for everyone including police officers who make traffic stops.

But Susana Martinez refuses to heed the lesson from California and wants to drive up the number of unlicensed drivers on our streets. She must know that undocumented immigrants are not going to stop driving just because she decides they shouldn’t have a license.

According to Beck, California’s stricter licensing laws have failed. They have “not reduced the problem one iota, haven’t reduced undocumented aliens driving without licenses.” 

New Mexico has allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses legally since 2003. Governor Martinez has been trying to stop issuing these licenses in an effort to win favor with national Republicans without regard for public safety. She refused to compromise on New Mexico Senate bill this past legislative session that strengthened restrictions on issuing licenses to undocumented aliens.  The Senate bill also addressed identity theft and other types of fraud.

We all could have lived with this bill.  Yet Martinez refused to compromise, choosing to score some cheap political points over public safety.

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