Friday, November 9, 2007

Driver's Licences

With all due deference to the esteemed Professor Borjas, I have to take some issue with him over his recent postings about driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. On the surface the idea that "illegals" should not be enabled with the privilege of driving is seductive, but if we dig deeper, the idea that they should be denied may be worse. If we "punt" the debate over whether illegal immigration should be accepted, it still doesn't necessarily make sense to deny themthe right to apply for and receive a driver's license. If illegals aren't licensed, the likely alternative is not that they won't drive, or even that they won't cross the border, rather the alternative is 12 million unlicensed, unmonitored, unaccountable, and uninsured motorists on the road. In other words, we bear the burden of their added risk. A similar argument was applied to the "bad driver fees" several states added to certain types of traffice violations-- states like Michigan noticed that the fees led to a substantial increase in uninsured motorists driving on licenses that had been suspended because of a single arbitrary "bad driver" incident. If illegal immigration continues to grow, this risk can only seem likely to increase.

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