Granting licenses to undocumented immigrants proves financially beneficial

Jaime Carrillo

Giving immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission the ability to get California driver’s licenses makes perfect sense.

Gov. Jerry Brown threw full support behind the bill, because of Congress’ ineptitude to pass any immigration reform at the federal level.

“Hopefully, [the bill] will send a strong message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due,” said Gov. Brown in a public statement on the bill on Sept. 12. 

On the surface, giving immigrants without legal permission the privilege to use California roads like legal citizens may seem unfair, but it has real fiscal benefits. In order to drive, your car must be gainfully insured. 

Immigrants who have since used their cars without licenses, will now be able to play by the rules like the rest of us. 

Not only will they have to pass a driving test, but they will also need car insurance, in case of an car accident. Still, some are afraid of the consequences of giving immigrants without proper documents a form of identification.

“As an employer, if they produce this driver’s license what am I supposed to do?” asked Assemblyman Curt Hagman on the Assembly floor on Sept. 12.

Sophomore journalism major Dorian Love, 23, has similar qualms.

“I mean, if [undocumented immigrants] have children it would be helpful, but I’m afraid of the ramifications we haven’t considered yet,” said Love. 

Any problems should be appeased though, considering these driver’s licenses will be marked and the only privilege it will guarantee is the right to use California roads.

Despite some critics in the California Legislature saying this bill was an overreach; it has the support of law enforcement including the Los Angeles Police Department.

“That’s what this bill is about – making the streets of this state safer,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck at the signing ceremony.

Giving immigrants the right to use the roads safely and legally is only the first step to meaningful immigration reform that California and America desperately needs.

A Wall Street Journal editorial claims immigrants without documentation could potentially help save costly government programs such as Social Security. 

“[Immigration] has ignited a debate over the fiscal costs of reform, with some conservatives claiming costs far exceed the benefits,” said the Wall Street Journal editorial board. “We think that’s wrong, and one place to look for evidence is the costliest of all federal programs, Social Security. As some 75 million baby boomers prepare to retire, immigrants will be crucial to keeping the federal pension program afloat.”

The Wall Street Journal isn’t alone in this. Immigration reform is backed by groups on all sides of the political spectrum such as the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee.

“This is only the first step,” Gov. Brown said at the bill’s signing ceremony. “Let’s hope, for the economic future of California and America, there will be further positive reform coming, if not at the federal, then at least at the state level.”