Minnesota became ground zero for the debate over official documentation for illegal immigrants this past week when the Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives voted to allow those not legally in this country to obtain driver’s licenses.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the bill still faces an uphill climb to become law, however.
“The 74-52 vote was a victory for the (Democrat) House majority and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who have made it a top priority for this session,” the Star Tribune reported Saturday.
“But it faces strong opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where some conservatives see it as an invitation to illegal immigration and possibly even fraudulent voting.”
Members of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party, Minnesota’s odd state offshoot of the Democrats, framed the issue as one of inclusion and of road safety.
“Immigrants, whether they are documented or undocumented, are Minnesotans. They are part of the fabric of our communities,” DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said. “It is time that we helped take away this shadow of not having a driver’s license.”
However, one Republican representative called it a “super magnet” for illegal immigrants, arguing it was “one step closer to making Minnesota a sanctuary state.”
Another representative asserted that the bill would create perverse incentives, saying that focusing on fixing legal immigration was the way to go.
“My perspective is that we want immigrants coming here legally and (to) create a ladder to the middle class,” Republican Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen said. “Incentivizing people to come here illegally defeats that purpose.”
Conservative groups have also worried that the ID could be used to register to vote or actually vote. Minnesota doesn’t have photo voter ID laws, however, and the licenses would carry a warning on them that they’re unable to be used for voting.
Incentivizing and normalizing illegal immigration remains a major issue with Republicans, who control the upper chamber in the Minnesota state house.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called the chances it would pass “small.” Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen said it was a “dangerous precedent” that would “undermine our current laws.”
“Minnesota shouldn’t be in the business of incentivizing illegal behavior, and by allowing illegal and undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses, that’s exactly what our state would be doing,” Ingebrigtsen said.
Well, yes, which is the point. Minnesota would be the 13th state to give illegal immigrants access to driver’s licenses. The likelihood that they could be used for voting is remote if the warning is properly implemented. Beyond that, however, it’s an issue of normalization of crime.
We too often forget that illegal immigration is illegal. If we want to fix our legal immigration system, that’s something we can certainly have a national discussion about.
The way to fix it, however, isn’t to reward those who go around that system to enter the United States. By giving those who are here illegally access to the same services and privileges that those here legally enjoy, Minnesota would be doing that. This may be a legislative priority of the state House of Representatives and the governor, but one hopes that the state Senate is able to apply some sense.