AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR ON IMMIGRATION
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” – Abraham Lincoln Dear Governor Kasich,
I am writing to you about an important matter that affects approximately 100,000 individuals in this great State. Many of these individuals seek to provide for their children, thus in order to provide, they seek to work. A large obstacle, however, blocks their path. This obstacle is one that sadly our State has not removed.
These individuals I speak of are called undocumented persons. I refrained from using this term while I explained to you their plight because I wanted you to think of them as your fellow human being. These individuals embody a great debate in our country. A more specific issue, which has come to the forefront, is whether these individuals should be able to obtain driver’s licenses in their respective States. I strongly believe that they should.
First, providing these individuals with driver’s licenses will be in the interest of public safety. It would assist the State in monitoring who is driving on our roads. It will also help the State monitor vehicle registration and insurance.
Many opponents of such a law raise credible issues. For example, they fear that undocumented persons who have committed crimes and undocumented individuals from other States would be able to obtain driver’s licenses in Ohio. I believe this can be largely prevented through the use of simple background checks and requesting the applicant to provide evidence of domicile such as a utility bill or lease. Also, this concern is applicable to U.S. citizens who have committed crimes and U.S. citizens who live in other States. This concern has not been an issue for the State of Ohio in the past. Furthermore, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an agency priority to deport criminal aliens, therefore, there is already a federal safeguard put into place.
Second, allowing these individuals to obtain driver’s licenses will increase the State’s revenue through fees these individuals will pay when applying for a driver’s license and also the cost of vehicle registration. Current annual vehicle renewal registration fees are $34.50. If even half of the 100,000 individuals renew their vehicle registration, then it will provide the state with an additional $1,725,000 dollars. The State can set its own costs and requirements for undocumented persons and thus provide itself with even more revenue. Furthermore, allowing these individuals to drive will remove many of their children, who are United States citizens, from public assistance. With a driver’s license, these individuals will be able to work and thus disqualify themselves for these programs.
Finally, on a humanitarian level, providing these individuals with driver’s licenses would be the right thing to do. The vast majority of these individuals want nothing more than to provide a better opportunity and life for their children; a motive that any parent can appreciate. It will allow undocumented parents to perform simple tasks we take for granted, such as picking up or dropping off our children to school. Ohio would also join a growing list of States implementing such legislation which include New Mexico, Illinois, Washington, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, and California whose Governor, Jerry Brown, recently signed this legislation into law.
I began with a quote from Abraham Lincoln because I’ve always been greatly moved by his words. He helped millions of individuals, deemed inferior, to a better life during a time when great debate and ultimately war tore our country apart. He held strong to his conviction and did what was right when many individuals demanded from him what was wrong. He noted that any man can criticize but a true man can look within himself to help another. Thus, I implore you to look within yourself and help support legislation that will help these 100,000 individuals in our great and welcoming State. I thank you for your time in reading my letter.
Margaret W. Wong, Esq.