All Virginians Need to Drive
A VICPP position paper on driving privileges for new Virginians:
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) supported legislation during the 2016 and 2017 General Assembly sessions to give immigrant communities access to driving privilege cards. To be truly welcome means to be safe and free. Driver’s licenses would move Virginia new residents closer to that standard. Granting licenses to all Virginia residents would make the roads safer for all of us.
VICPP favors all drivers being held to the same standard of knowledge and skill. Ineligibility for a driver’s license means that undocumented Virginians are not required to meet that standard. All drivers should know the rules of the road. States that have opened driving access to undocumented immigrants have seen a dramatic decrease in traffic accidents.
People living, working and paying taxes in Virginia should not find themselves in deportation proceedings due to minor administrative violations. The majority of deported immigrants find themselves in ICE’s dragnet due to infractions such as driving without a license. By granting access to licenses, law-abiding Virginians will not be permanently separated from their homes and families due to such a minor charge.
Undocumented parents are often excluded from participating in their children’s school and extracurricular activities because they cannot show Virginia identification. This not only marginalizes deeply involved undocumented parents, but exacerbates the unequal playing field for their children, even when their children are U.S. citizens.
In Virginia, most people need to drive to go to work, school, the doctor. All Virginians are safer when all drivers meet the same standards. Families are stronger when all parents are involved in their children’s activities. The economy flourishes when barriers to participation diminish. Virginia’s collective spirit thrives when all are safe and free.
-Lana Heath de Martinez, VICPP’s Welcoming All Coordinator