Lawmakers Consider Giving Driver's Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

ANNAPOLISMD - Should illegal immigrants be able to get Maryland driver's licenses? That's what the Maryland General assembly is considering.

"What part of illegal don't they understand? It's illegal. They're not here lawfully. They have an unlawful presence, so why should we give them driver's licenses," says Del. Wendell Beitzel, (R) - Garrett and Allegany Counties.

This is something lawmakers in the Maryland House of Delegates are considering.

"Basically, what we're saying to the rest of the world is come to Maryland. You don't have to be legal. We're going to give you a lot of benefits, and we're not going to require that much of you. We're not going to enforce out laws that are existing federal laws," says Del. Neil Parrott, (R) -Washington County.

Most western Maryland delegates don't like the idea, including Delegate Michael Hough, who says he has many issues with the bill.

"There's basically no criminal background checks for people we're going to give these driver's licenses to, so while the state senate passed a bill to fingerprint all law-abiding gun owners, we're saying to people who are illegal immigrants that we're not going to check if you come to this country and were deported before for human trafficking, for drive-by shootings, for DUI," says Hough, (R) - Frederick and Washington Counties.

The Maryland Senate approved the bill with a 29-18 vote last Friday.

Senator Ron Young was the only western Maryland senator to vote for the bill. He believes giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses is important for public safety.

"I listened to the department of transportation and others who realized that a lot of those people are on the road and untrained without licenses, and they feel that they would have better control if they had a license," says Young, (D), Frederick & Washington Counties.

Those licenses would show the cardholders aren't U.S. citizens.

"Many of them are driving anyhow, and at least with the license, they can be traced," Young says. "They have to pass the driving exam. They have to get proper insurance."

The Maryland House of Delegates could begin debating the bill as early as the end of this week.

"We don't require any level of English proficiency before we give them these licenses to make sure they can read signs and can communicate with someone during an accident," says Hough.

The majority of the western Maryland's 14 delegates say they'll vote "no" on the bill. The only one who's considering it is Frederick County Delegate Galen Clagett (D). His office says he's still undecided about the idea.

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