Illegal immigrants could get valid Florida driver’s licenses under proposed legislation that would accept foreign passports, international birth certificates and Mexican consular cards as proof of identity. As is the case in most states, current Florida law requires residents to prove U.S. citizenship or provide a resident alien greed card to obtain a driver’s license. Two separate measures—introduced this month in the House and Senate—would let illegal aliens in the Sunshine State get valid cards.
The House bill, co-introduced by an Orlando Democrat who is a senior director at Planned Parenthood, would allow the following documents to obtain a license; a birth certificate issued by a foreign government; a consular identification document issued by the government of Mexico or a document issued by another government which the department determines is substantially similar. In a local news report the state representative, Anna Eskamani, behind the measure said this: “I always ask the question about why not build trust with those who are already marginalized, versus pushing them farther and farther away from us. I think what this bill does is it helps to build that trust. It also helps ensure public safety.”
The Senate version was introduced by Miami Democrat Javier Rodriguez, who asserts that “it doesn’t matter your immigration status. If you are on the roads, you should have access to a driver’s test and the ability to get car insurance.” The wording in his measure is identical to the House version accepting foreign passports, birth certificates, consular IDs and similar documents as proof of identity. Neither measure has been heard by legislative committees and the senate version was recently referred to a state infrastructure and security subcommittee on transportation. Rodriguez is well known for protecting illegal aliens and is working to combat a measure to crack down on sanctuary cities in Florida by ensuring local law enforcement agencies fully comply with federal immigration detainers. Rodriguez refers to the bill, which is moving forward in the state Senate, as “anti-immigrant.”
If either of the Florida driver’s license bills pass, it would become the 13th state—along with the District of Columbia—to offer illegal immigrants the privilege. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Washington issue a license to applicants that provide a foreign birth certificate, passport or consular card. Washington State was the first to pass a law, in 1993, granting illegal aliens driver’s licenses. The next two states—New Mexico and Utah—enacted their measures in 2003 and 2005 respectively followed by Illinois (2012) and Vermont, Nevada, Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado and California in 2013. The District of Columbia also passed its law in 2013 and Hawaii and Delaware followed in 2015.
In 2013 Oregon passed a law that let illegal aliens get driver’s licenses but voters overwhelmingly approved a citizen’s veto referendum to suspend it a year later. Incredibly, a group of Mexican illegal immigrants sued to reverse the decision by Oregon voters, claiming that it was unconstitutional because it arbitrarily denies driving privileges “based on their membership in a disfavored minority group.” A federal judge in Eugene dismissed the lawsuit, finding that there was no discriminatory animus on the state’s part for refusing to issue illegal aliens driver cards.
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