Officials in Arlington County, Virginia are proposing to allow illegal immigrants living in the area to obtain driver’s licenses, dividing some members of the community.
Chair of the Arlington County Board Libby Garvey is spearheading the initiative and says she expects the majority of Board members to support her effort. Garvey argues giving illegal immigrants licenses will be an economic boon for the county and make the streets safer. Many residents disagree with the proposal, however, arguing it leaves a legal gray area, reports Fox5.
“For an undocumented immigrant, I think you should be here legally to get a license,” an unidentified woman told Fox5.
Garvey says the proposed law would help individuals get to work and be more productive members of the community, despite it being against the law for illegal immigrants to work in the U.S. Garvey also notes many illegal immigrants are already driving, so a license will ensure they learn how to operate a vehicle properly. (RELATED: Illegal Immigrants Sue After Landlord Demands Documentation For Housing)
“If we don’t do that, then we are just sort of pretending that they are not really here and they are not working,” Garvey told Fox5. “That is a federal issue they need to deal with. We need to deal with the effects here in our community and we believe everybody will be better off if these folks have licenses.”
If the measure passes in the Arlington County Board it will still face a tough sell to the Virginia state legislature, which is predominately conservative. Licenses can only be issued by the state, but Garvey is hopeful state lawmakers will follow the example of conservative lawmakers in Utah and Nevada — where similar laws are already in place.
Some residents are reluctantly giving support to the initiative.
“I have been hit by an illegal immigrant that didn’t have a driver’s license and that didn’t have insurance, so I don’t think it’s a good thing,” an unidentified resident told Fox5. “But I think given the reality, I think it makes sense for us to give them driver’s licenses so we know who they are and where they live.”
The Arlington County Board will convene Tuesday to vote on the proposal.
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