Thursday, February 10, 2005

Why I'm not quite liberal enough

House OKs Citizenship Check for Licenses

I've heard debate on this particular issue for a while and I puzzle over the various arguements. Yes, people who come here illegally are usually farm workers, or maids, or other people from poorer countries willing to work shit wages doing jobs that nice Americans don't want to do for that kind of pay, and I know they will drive cars without a license anyway, and I know that it's like to be misused on some people -- probably a lot of people -- who are here "unofficially". There are a lot of immigrant advocates fighting this one.

I keep wandering back to what I suspect is a rther conservative arguement. If I'm a citizen of a country, I expect there to be a few things I can have that people who aren't citizens can't have. A driver's license strikes me as one of them.

I've seen too many documentaries about people getting duped by smugglers who pack them into cargo containers and bring them over here in miserable conditions, just to enslave them in restaurants or sweat shops in order to "pay their debt". I've got a lot of sympathy for people who see this country as a place they can make a future, help their families back home, better themselves. Hell, most of us are, somewhere along the family line, recent arrivals in this country.

And I don't get into this for the anti-terrorism angle. For good or bad, I do not beleive it is possible to have both a free society and a completely secure society. Freedom in no way, shape or form implies that one will always be safe. In fact, freedom almost always contains some elements of risk, of danger. No, I think the whole "don't give terrorists driver's licenses" arguement is full of holes.

If I were to travel to another country and want to drive a car there, I would expect that 1) I'd have to have a license in my home country so that I could demonstrate that I could drive a car there 2) I'd have to take some kind of test to get a temporary permit, something that would last as long as my visitor's visa or work visa or whatever 3) not be able to use that permit as a form of ID. I'd never be issued a permanent license unless I became a citizen, paid taxes there, etc.; That's for me, what I'd consider reasonable if I had to do it. So, maybe that's unreasonable for someone who is not as priveledged as I am. I can't say.

But I'm hoping this particular legislation passes because...well...it's screwy enough being a citizen here and feeling embarrassed about my political leaders, and living under the constant threat that we will suddenly become a paranoid theocracy and the Constitution (a fine document, I think) will be so much toilet paper, I'd like there to be something positive about it.

No comments: