The Minnesota House is scheduled to vote Friday on legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
This is one of those measures that figures to be better policy than politics, and the Republican-led Senate should not reject the legislation out of hand.
Immigration status was no barrier to driver’s licenses until 2003. Today undocumented immigrants cannot legally drive in Minnesota.
That doesn’t mean they don’t drive, however. It means they drive untrained, untested and uninsured. It means they drive in fear that a traffic stop would result in deportation. That fear prompts them to flee accident scenes.
It means, in short, that our highways are less safe than they could be.
The House bill, whose chief sponsor is Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, has the support of groups ranging from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to the Minnesota Catholic Conference to the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council. The chamber and the ag council rightly note the importance of immigrants to the state’s work force in general and agriculture in particular.
The licenses under Winkler’s bill would limited to driving purposes only.
More than a dozen states allow undocumented immigrants legal access to their roads. Minnesota would do well to join that list.