Jeb Bush and Illegal Immigrants


Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) has sensibly signed on to giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses in the Sunshine State, thus setting the stage for an East Coast-West Coast Republican war over the issue:

Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed a bill to allow illegal immigrants to get driver licenses, saying they are in the state anyway and officials should accept that fact.

The bill he is backing has enough safeguards that it would ensure terrorists are not getting licenses, Bush said Monday.

"We shouldn't allow them to come into the country to begin with, but once they're here, what do you do? Do you basically say that they're lepers to society? That they don't exist?" he asked. "A policy that ignores them is a policy of denial."

The issue comes up just four months after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican, fulfilled a major campaign promise by repealing a law that would have allowed an estimated 2 million illegal immigrant drivers there to begin applying for licenses.

Whole thing here.

An interesting sidelight to all this: Isn't it clear that driver's licenses function mostly as a form of identification and not as certification that someone knows how to drive? I mean, no parent–or insurance company, for that matter–is going to let their kids drive without knowing what they're doing. But teaching that sort of skill hardly requires the state to devise and administer tests on people; it's clearly something that could and would be handled completely within the private sector.

NEXT: Full Bore

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  1. Jeb says, “We shouldn’t allow them to come into the country to begin with, but once they’re here, what do you do?”

    Uh, deport them?

  2. I think ol’ Jeb means just for right wing Cuban illegal immigrants. No Haitians, Dominicans, or other carribean riff raff need apply.

  3. Russ: Cuban “illegals” are legal.

  4. Most of the comments above show how credulous or disingenuous Reason’s editors and commentators are.

    This is about votes and bringing in cheap labor. It’s not about public safety. In the case of CA, Gil Cedillo does it partly because he’s a former member of a racial separatist group.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that Jeb is working with his brother and Arnold S. to replicated this plan in CA and other states.

    I cover Jeb’s plan starting here.

    Take a look at all the complications involved in verifying these licenses. Both Florida and the foreign countries have to do background checks. Florida has to make hugely complicated deals with foreign countries and monitor those countries’ consulates to make sure they’re doing the checks correctly.

    Now, ask yourself this: Florida is able to make hugely complicated deals with foreign consulates, but they’re unable to work with the federal government to enforce our immigration laws? I don’t buy it. However, Reason’s editors and commentators appear to have bought it hook, line, and sinker.

  5. Since Reason covered Bandar Bush, perhaps they could cover this as well: ‘Los Amigos de Bush: The disturbing ties of some of George W. Bush?s Latino advisors’.

    The NYT article “In Florida Groves, Cheap Labor Means Machines” might prove enlightening to supporters of the hacienda system, especially the part about the politics of ag mechanization.

    Since the excerpt above is from the Salt Lake Tribune, this article mentioning Utah’s Chris Cannon might be interesting.

  6. Uh oh, we’re bringing up Utah now. I’m getting scared. It’s the X-files all over again.

  7. My hispanic buddy brought up a good point– he asked why he still has to buy uninsured motorist coverage even though California has a law requiring insurance. By giving a license to aliens it allows them to get insurance and registration and (yum yum) pay those auto taxes at the DMV. It’s a license to drive god damn it, not a sanction of your political status.

  8. Well, Paul, it’s a bit more than a license to drive. It’s in many ways the keys to the kingdom. With a driver’s license you can get other documents and a multitude of other things.

    These laws would bring in additional money for the insurance industry. How many illegals are going to pay for it themselves however? So, the state might need to subsidize the insurance industry, and the rest of us get the bill.

    See, it’s a great idea! BTW, how much money does the insurance industry donate to Arnold, Jeb, and all these other people?

  9. Ahh, but then how would they suspend it for things unrelated to driving? Sure drunk drivers deserve to have their license suspended, but what can we do about people with unpaid parking or jaywalking tickets. How will we keep those menaces off the roads?

  10. unfortunetly, there are many bad drivers out there. there should be some form of certification before you’re allowed to pilot a 3000lbs bullet at 75mph. bad drivers kill people (especially bikers).

  11. Jeb Bush is an idiot. Background checks in illegal immigrants? How??? Mexico’s record keeping is…well….err….lax, to be polite. And who pays for this? Sheesh.

    At least Arnie here in the DPRC has the good sense to not want this (like 75% of the voters of CA)

  12. heh2k,
    Nick wasn’t saying that certification wasn’t need, just that it could be done privately. Sort of like AAA and international drivers’ licenses. The simplest (and most likely) way it will happen, especially in states where insurance is required to drive, is that insurance companies will require one of a set of licenses. People that take more rigorous classes, getting more difficult licenses to recieve would pay less. The upshot is that to get those licenses, people would learn better driving techniques.

  13. I think there are roadway-safety and background/security reasons behind this decision. If a driver is illegal anyway, why would that driver bother to get insurance/keep his car in proper working order/keep his regestration up to date/go through the proper safety courses before driving? (While I agree with Nick that people usually won’t let themselves or their kids drive if they perceive it to be unsafe, many members of the public, especially those that haven’t gotten the full driver’s education, make their decision about what is safe driving based on bad information. This is doubtlessly even more common among the less educated, less automotive segment of the population knows as “illegal immigrants.”)

  14. Illegals in Florida should just fly out to LA & buy their driver’s licenses & Social Security cards at Macarthur Park.

  15. If you’re an illegal immigrant, why would you bother getting a driver’s license anyway? Seems like a driver license facility is the perfect spot for INS agents to hang out.

  16. If driver licenses for illegals was really about promoting public safety rather than helping illegals pass themselves off as legal, this would be the thing to do: issue licenses in two colors, one to anyone who documents his legal status, the other to anyone who doesn’t. Don’t make that info available to insurance companies. Then order police to ignore the color of the license when pulling anyone over for any reason, but to hand over to INS any suspected illegals who are caught without a license.

  17. Xrlq,

    Maybe your plan would work, if you could get all of it passed and enforced. But that’s a big if (and a big and). Who’s going to believe the insurance companies won’t find out? Who’s going to believe your friendly neighborhood cop isn’t going to care if you’re illegal? The very complicatedness of your plan demonstrates that it’s not the obvious solution to promoting public safety.

  18. My ex-wife (a Mexican national) drove in Texas for many years with her Mexican drivers license.
    The only time I recall it was not excepted was at the motor voter registration.

  19. Fyodor, there is nothing “complicated” about my plan, except the part about getting it passed in the first place, and that’s only “complicated” because 99% of the people pushing driver licenses for illegals as a “public safety” measure are lying. Implementation of the plan, once passed, would be relatively simple: one type of license establishes legal right to drive only, while the other also provides evidence of lawful residence within the state.

    I don’t know where you think insurance companies would get this information if it wasn’t on a DMV report, but then again, I’m not sure why you think they’d even care, either. In California, at least, the criteria that auto insurers may or may not use to set rates or offer/deny coverage are clearly spelled out in the Insurance Code, and the use of any other criteria is strictly prohibited.

    Under current law, your friendly neighborhood cop doesn’t care if you’re illegal, and in many cities (L.A., for example), he’s not even legally allowed to care. My proposal would change that rule only slightly by making him contact INS over something he already does care about: people driving without a license.

  20. “Then order police to ignore the color of the license when pulling anyone over for any reason”

    Sounds like a complication to me.

  21. “Russ: Cuban “illegals” are legal.”

    That’s what pisses me off about this whole subject. The difference between a lover and a rapist is very, very real. So is the difference between a murderer and a target shooter, a thief and a gift recipient, or a DUI and a commuter.

    But the difference between a legal Cuban immigrant and an illegal Haitian immigrant is completely bogus.

  22. Wait a moment… isn’t this _Reason Magazine_, the home of _Free Minds and _Free Markets_?

    Someone should mention that state controls over the natural movement of human beings are in violation of everything that a true libertarian should believe in.

    I should have a right to decide what country I live in, not some bumbling beauracracy.

    Free Minds means I may have to take my mind to a country where I won’t be executed for thinking differently.

    Free Markets means I may want to take my labor to a country where it is considered valuable.

    Give us your tired, your poor, we will give them drivers licenses and put them to work building a better America.

  23. you people are stuped

  24. Yeah can’t see the discussion going anywhere.

  25. I think Bush should not be president and I do not trust Cheney and Rumsfeld. I don’t know about Kerry, but I think i will vote against bush. These people give me a really bad feeling

  26. I think Bush should not be president and I do not trust Cheney and Rumsfeld. I don’t know about Kerry, but I think i will vote against bush. These people give me a really bad feeling

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