This week the Governor made the progressive case for issuing driver’s licenses or driving permits to state residents, regardless of their immigration status:
Responding to questions about a vote by the Board of Governors for Higher Education to approve in-state rates for undocumented students, Chafee said being able to drive would help people who need transportation to go to school or work or to look for work.
He said has spoken with officials in Utah, which he said is the only state that has established a special class of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
“I’m working on it,” he said.
That other blog was quick to pile on. But Chafee neglects an important and pragmatic reason for supporting the idea. Data geeks like me know Bruce Schneier. I found his take this week perhaps the most compelling reason why you too should support the idea:
The state driver’s license databases are the only comprehensive databases of U.S. residents. They’re more complete, and contain more information – including photographs and, in some cases, fingerprints – than the IRS database, the Social Security database, or state birth certificate databases. As such, they are an invaluable police tool – for investigating crimes, tracking down suspects, and proving guilt.
Removing the 8 million-15 million illegal immigrants from these databases would only make law enforcement harder. Of course, the unlicensed won’t pack up and leave. They will drive without licenses, increasing insurance premiums for everyone. They will use fake IDs, buy real IDs from crooked DMV employees – as several of the 9/11 terrorists did – forge “breeder documents” to get real IDs (another 9/11 terrorist trick), or resort to identity theft. These millions of people will continue to live and work in this country, invisible to any government database and therefore the police.
Assuming that denying licenses to illegals will make them leave is head-in-the-sand thinking.