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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Dear Editor:
Undocumented immigrants in the United States do not face mass deportation efforts according to the INS Commissioner (Immigration Daily 5/30/02). "…It’s not practical or reasonable", he said, referring to such an action as being impractically large and adding that it would have too severe an impact on the U.S. economy. Is there anyone who is knowledgeable in this matter who disagrees with this reasoning?

Alan Greenspan, America’s most respected economist, agrees with the Commissioner. In a testimony before the U.S. Senate, he spoke affirmatively about immigrants’ impact on the nation’s economy: "I’ve always argued that this country has benefited immensely from the fact that we draw people from all over the world." (Making a Difference in America – Report of AILF, Vol. 1, Issue 1)

The heads of many national business associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also agree. They have confirmed the present importance of immigrant workers to the economy of the country and predict the need for even more such workers in the next ten years. (Testimony presented by the president of AILA, Steve Ladik, to U.S. Senate on 4/6/02).

One writer "To the Editor" recently wrote: "Hopefully the immigration problem [solution] will be solved by sensible people…"

I submit: The above are "sensible" (and qualified) people. Give Commissioner Ziglar sufficient time and, with the exercise of his authority, he will work out a solution soliciting the help of other qualified people as needed (if there is an obtainable solution). Unfortunately, fear has taken over the opinions of many Americans—fear of immigrants in general, not necessarily fear of individual immigrants. This complicates a realistic approach to the problem.

The U.S. Attorney General did not help future solutions when he proposed to have local police enforce immigration laws—a proposal the national Community of Police Consortium and many state police organizations and departments across the country have labeled as an impediment to the enforcement of criminal laws that will likely lead to civil rights abuses based on ethnicity, language and accent. This Justice Department’s new policy will not increase our national security. Opposition to this policy by police departments across the country continues to grow. (Immigration Daily 5/28/02)

In like manner, the imposition of new restrictions on immigrants in the obtaining of or renewal of their drivers’ licenses will not increase national security. Its only result is to force immigrants out of necessity to operate their vehicles without legal authorization—force them to violate yet another law. Without legal authorization, the worker cannot maintain his required auto liability insurance—no liability insurance, an additional law violation.

Does anyone think for one instance that not having a driver’s license would have impeded in any way the actions of the terrorists on Sept. 11? With the enormous amounts of money available to them and with their cunning they were able to obtain any identification needed. (In fact, they traveled freely back and forth around the world with no problems—paper wise or money wise. They had all of their needed documents and so much money that they sent part of it back before committing their dastardly deeds.)

A driver’s license is intended primarily to be a certification that the holder of such a document has passed the necessary tests to qualify the operator to legally drive a vehicle. With such a license, he can obtain the required liability insurance. Without a license, the driver is deprived of his proof of competency to drive. In case of an accident, an involved person with no liability insurance cannot cover his possible responsibility--a danger to our own selves as individuals.

(For Mexican immigrants, a national identification card is obtainable at any Mexican consular office. This card serves as identification and certification by his country that the person is who he claims to be. It is not intended to affect the legality or illegality of his presence in our country. It would help our national security if every Mexican immigrant obtained one. It could help the immigrant himself cash his payroll check and otherwise identify himself, and could possibly serve as a means of identification, if accepted, for that person to obtain or renew his driver’s license. With a valid license he is able to purchase auto liability insurance –and comply with our laws--which is of benefit to us all.)

I believe the Commissioner when he says that there will be no mass effort to deport undocumented immigrants. Only a very insignificant number of immigrants will thus face deportation while the vast majority will continue to live in the shadows, unidentified and unaccounted. Having large numbers of unidentified and unaccounted people in our country is counter to the interests of our security. There must be some way for them to acquire recognition. Of the very insignificant number that will have problems, a few may face deportation as the result of their being reported, through malice, as not having papers. Some will run afoul of the law and face deportation. Others possibly may be detained for operating a vehicle without a valid license; and if apprehended by a police official intent on enforcing immigration laws; they, too, may face deportation (for license violation together with lack of documentation). And some may even face deportation just through abuse of their civil rights by an overly zealous newly empowered police officer who through racial profiling detained them because of their color, language or accent; and discovered them to be undocumented. For the few that will be deported, the deportation will be anything but insignificant.

Richard E. Baer, D.V.M.


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