The emotions of this matter need to be set aside so the facts and rationale can be placed front and center. Yesterday in the Wisconsin Statehouse a rally was held to underscore the need for driver certificates to be issued for undocumented workers. There was a wide swath of Wisconsin represented at the rally as law enforcement, the dairy industry, labor groups, and religious organizations all made their voice clear. This is a matter that deserves attention this week in the budget process.
While it has been noted that some, such as State Senator Tim Carpenter, staunchly oppose this matter being in the state budget, it is not clear if his opposition is based on his own beliefs, or if he wishes to only represent the desires of his district. I think if Carpenter were allowed to vote his convictions he would allow these driver certificates to be in the budget. The pressure from constituents, it needs to be noted in many cases, comes with a far too ample supply of bigotry that gets thrown into the mix, and detracts from the issue at hand.
The reason we are even talking about driver certificates for undocumented immigrants is that Congress passed a law in 2005 which allows drivers licenses only for those who are citizens, or have legal status. But that criteria does not include all those who actually use the roads. The federal law also allows states to issue driver certificates to those who do not have a social security number. However, in 2006 the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a law that added social security as a requirement for obtaining a drivers license. Sadly, the legislature had no interest in allowing for driver certificates.
Therefore there needs to be a change in Wisconsin law to provide for driver certificates for undocumented immigrants, as the federal law currently allows. The reason that this change should be made is quite obvious. Safer roads will result from better drivers who are licensed in some manner, and who are also insured. The last part will save us all money.
There is no doubt among all the interested parties to this issue that the drivers who are either licensed, or have the driver certificates, are safer on the road, have fewer accidents, and have a higher rate of being insured. In areas where cars are a needed form of transportation there is no sane argument for using ones immigration status as a reason to deny a drivers license, or driver certificate.
Fairness and safety should trump the other more base reasons, thus assuring that this matter gets placed in the state budget. And it needs to be done this week.
Come on Senator Carpenter, I know you can do the right thing for the State of Wisconsin.