Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hopes for "rational appeal" dashed

John Roy Castillo is executive director of Lansing's Cristo Rey Community Center. Today, the Lansing State Journal's John Schneider noted Castillo's defense of the fact that Michigan issues drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Here's the relevant portion of Schneider's column:
John Roy Castillo says that if you're going to deny Michigan driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, they also should be withheld from convicted pedophiles, thieves, rapists, prostitutes and you comfortable citizens caught cheating on your taxes, too.

In other words, all lawbreakers.

Judging from reader feedback in recent weeks regarding this state's disinclination to require proof of citizenship from driver's license applicants, 99.9 percent of you won't agree with Castillo. But give the man credit for his willingness to voice an unpopular view.

Castillo is executive director of Lansing's Cristo Rey Community Center. In a recent letter referring to my recent columns about the driver's license issue, he asked for the chance to "play the devil's advocate and, for the sake of balance, make what I hope is a rational appeal as to why (illegal) immigrants should receive driver's licenses."

'Negative' results

In a subsequent interview, Castillo said:

"People don't stop and think about the negative consequences (of denying licenses to undocumented residents) to all U.S. citizens.

"It's a safety issue. When I'm driving my car, I want to know that the person driving next to me is insured."

Castillo pointed to statistics that show unlicensed drivers are nearly five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and are more likely to operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.

Granting licenses to undocumented aliens, Castillo argued, encourages them to buy insurance, while making them safer drivers. It also makes them more accessible to the authorities.

"They will be taxpayers and productive members of our society," Castillo wrote.
Where to start... Well, maybe with my belief that our immigration system is even more FUBAR than the typical big government bureaucracy, and that it should be streamlined to allow more rapid immigration - either permanently or on a guest worker basis. First, however, we have to solve the problem of people who expect to jump the line. Nobody is talking about the fairness of that. Nonetheless, let's examine Mr. Castillo's points.

Castillo's suggestion that all people who have committed crimes should be denied drivers licenses conflates all criminal behaviour and presumes that that is the reason illegal immigrants should not be granted a picture ID. This is neither the point, nor the case.

His point that he wants "to know that the person driving next to me is insured," is simply ridiculous. Just because someone has a drivers license does not mean they have insurance. Proof of insurance may required to get license plates, but what is it about having a license that prevents anyone from canceling their insurance after they get plates, illegal alien or not?

Castillo's assertion that "unlicensed drivers are nearly five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and are more likely to operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol," is laughable. Does he really believe that not having a drivers license causes fatal crashes or DUI? If not, he should have saved his breath. If so, he should take a course in basic causology.

We've already dealt with the "encourages them to buy insurance" issue, but the fact that Castillo is contradicting himself here should be noted. Since Castillo knows any licensed driver automatically has insurance, "encourages" would be a severe, even disingenuous, understatement.

On the idea that having a drivers license makes them safer drivers, I will point out that there's not much that would make me a more cautious driver than being a licenseless illegal alien driving without insurance. Maybe it's different if you're not expecting any enforcement, which brings us to a final point.

If having a drivers license makes illegals "more accessible to authorities," why are any licensed illegals still in the country? Maybe because we're not enforcing the law, unlike what we did to all those other criminals Castillo mentions.

As for a "rational appeal as to why (illegal) immigrants should receive driver's licenses" Mr. Castillo's arguments fail on the merits. The only thing Castillo said with any merit would be, "They will be taxpayers and productive members of our society." That may well be, but it's off topic.

1 comment:

Mitch said...

Heck,

When I first moved to Michigan from Canada in 2002, those competent people at the Secretary of State office tried to register to me to vote. After telling them repeatedly that "I AM NOT A U.S. CITIZEN AND I CANNOT VOTE!", they stopped.

This happened to other Canadian friends of mine too. Guess they figure that Canadian citizens have the right to vote in Michigan.