AILA South Florida Stresses Economic and Safety Benefits of Driver Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

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A prominent chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA South Florida, is calling attention to the critical need to permit undocumented immigrants in Florida to apply for driver licenses. AILA South Florida is stressing the significant economic and safety benefits for all Floridians in making this change in the state legislature, and also urging Florida gubernatorial candidates to speak out about this important issue facing the state.

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All residents of Florida will benefit from safer highways, lowered insurance costs, and the improved homeland security that will come with allowing foreign nationals to apply for driver licenses.

AILA South Florida is emphasizing the critical need to allow undocumented immigrants in Florida to apply for driver licenses, underscoring the vast economic and safety benefits of doing so. The group strongly supports the recently introduced Drive Safe Sunshine State campaign aimed at making this change in the state legislature. AILA South Florida is also calling upon leading Florida gubernatorial candidates Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist to weigh in on this important issue.

An improvement in public safety is one of the key benefits of this potential change. Statistics show that unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to be in a fatal car accident,* putting everyone on South Florida roads in danger. But to obtain a driver license, applicants must pass safe-driving tests and display a clear comprehension of the rules of the road, lowering the likelihood of accidents in our communities.

After New Mexico began allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver licenses in 2002, numbers changed drastically in the next eight years. Fatal crashes decreased 21 percent and overall traffic fatalities fell 23 percent by 2010.**

In addition, to obtain driver licenses foreign nationals will be required to get auto insurance, which will lower insurance costs for everyone. Indeed, insured drivers currently pay higher premiums to cover the damage claims of uninsured drivers. By reducing the number of uninsured drivers, insurance premiums will fall.

Perhaps most important, issuing driver licenses to undocumented immigrants will also make the U.S. more secure. Currently, the U.S. government has no records of most likely millions of people who are in the United States. Issuing driver licenses to undocumented immigrants will give the U.S. government better intelligence regarding who is in the country and will therefore enhance our ability to fight terrorism within our borders.

“All residents of Florida will benefit from safer highways, lowered insurance costs, and the improved homeland security that will come with allowing foreign nationals to apply for driver licenses,” said AILA South Florida President Jacob Ratzan. “We hope that our state lawmakers and gubernatorial candidates recognize this important issue and take action to make a simple and sensible legislative change that benefits all of us.”

If new state laws regarding this policy are enacted, Florida would become the 12th state in the U.S. to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver licenses.

About AILA South Florida
AILA South Florida is one of the largest and most respected chapters of the national American Immigration Lawyers Association. The organization’s attorneys are dedicated to providing personalized and high quality immigration law counsel to immigrants throughout South Florida. AILA South Florida attorneys strive to utilize their legal education, experience and specialized knowledge to effectively represent individuals in immigration legal matters based on each individual’s unique circumstances, immigration history, and ultimate objectives. Learn more at http://www.ailasouthflorida.org.

*Unlicensed to Kill, aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2011Unlicensed2Kill.pdf
**University of New Mexico, Division of Government Research, unm.edu/~dgrint/reports/annual/annrept09.pdf

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Pamela Armstrong
@AILASoFlorida
since: 08/2013
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