Indiana lawmakers pushed ahead for the first time on Tuesday a proposal that would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain state-issued cards giving them permission to drive.
A state Senate committee voted 5-4 to endorse the bill, a step that comes after similar proposals introduced over the past decade never advanced in the Republican-dominated Legislature.
The bill would establish driver privilege cards, which the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles would issue to immigrants who pass the state’s driving test, have paid Indiana taxes in the past year, submitted to a fingerprint background check and provide proof of auto insurance.
Eighteen states, including California, Illinois, New York and Utah, already have approved similar driving cards in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Supporters argue such an Indiana program will improve safety on the roads, reduce the number of uninsured drivers and make it easier for police officers to identify drivers during traffic stops.
Republican Sen. Blake Doriot of Goshen, the bill’s sponsor, called federal immigration policy a “bipartisan screwup” for decades but said that immigrants were an important part of the state’s workforce, such as in the recreational vehicle industry, which is a major employer in his northern Indiana district.
The bill would have to win approval from the full state Senate by the end of February in order advance to the House for consideration during this year’s legislative session.
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, state Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Conference of Catholic Bishops and several other law enforcement, business and immigrant advocate groups testified in support of the proposal Tuesday before the Senate’s Homeland Security and Transportation Committee.
Goshen Police Chief Jose Miller said many immigrants were already living in the state without federal legal permission and such driving cards would reduce the number of people afraid of being arrested over illegal driving who flee from police officers. He said the driving cards would help immigrants who are trying to work and improve the lives of their families.
“It allows them an avenue to learn the laws, contribute to the taxes, contribute to insurance to where it lowers the costs of everybody that is here,” Miller said.
Three committee Republicans joined the panel’s two Democratic senators to advance the proposal, with four Republicans voting against it.
Republican Sen. Jim Buck of Kokomo voted against the proposal after saying he was bothered by the state giving driving privileges to people who were not following federal immigration laws.
“As sympathetic as many of us are, that is a hard hill to climb over,” Buck said.
8 thoughts on “Proposal advances for Indiana driving cards for illegal immigrants”
Does it not make any difference that these individuals are here illegally?
While their presence violates federal entry laws, they are here, and they are driving cars, often without insurance. If the State gives them a driver’s permit in exchange for full identity registration, and proof of insurance, that is helpful to the all too often accident scene where they flee, or simply get ticketed and keep on driving without insurance. It may also help track the rotten apples coming into the country. On the other hand, how can the process keep them from dropping the insurance shortly after getting the license? Overall, fingerprints and identity seem like a good idea, even without the insurance benefit.
The illegals remaining insured is a very big deal.
Next step – offer them a path to citizenship … contingent on the payment of all appropriate taxes and good behavior.
How is the insurance concern any different for any other driver?
If they are currently driving without insurance. Why do we think they would be concerned about getting insurance with some type of license? They have already shown they don’t follow the laws by driving now. What am I missing? Yes, I know people need to drive. Wait, no they don’t. The roads in northern Indiana are filled with Amish who ride bikes and buggies and collective vans. THEY FOLLOW THE LAWS, of both their church and the state. Just saying.
Someone please explain to me which laws we are going to enforce. If illegal aliens can get a license as a misdemeanor/felon why can’t a US Citizen with 10 DUI’s get a license?
Illegal Entry”/8 U.S.C. § 1325-Misdemeanor Fine plus 6 months prison
Illegal Re-Entry”/8 U.S.C. § 1326-Felony 2-30 years in prison
Answer: The illegal alien has more rights than US Citizen. And many states have motor voter laws that register licensees to vote in state and national elections. Huh!
Didn’t read the bill nor the article that these are useless for voting. Huh!
People go on and on about voter fraud and then they elect a Secretary of State (the office that actually administers elections) who was clearly caught voting where he didn’t live.
It’s like it’s not really that important to enforce the laws.
Letting illegal immigrants have a drivers license with strings attached seems like a fair trade. Ask our esteemed Congressmen solve the immigration issue.