Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nobody Could Have Predicted

blah blah blah.

BENSON, N.C. — Luz Gonzalez used to take spur-of-the-moment trips to the beach. Now, she's afraid to drive to the doctor for checkups on her new pregnancy. She and her husband, Ismael, can no longer have a savings account or a car registered in their names. Every time they drive to church, they watch for the flash of blue lights in the mirror.

The Gonzalezes, who identified themselves by only one of their two surnames, are among many illegal immigrants in North Carolina who are beginning a new life — one without driver's licenses. A 2006 state law made it impossible for illegal immigrants to renew their licenses. The change was talked about mostly as a tool to combat terrorism — several of the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks had licenses.

But it's also created a crisis in the Hispanic community and a potential hazard on the roads. As licenses issued under the old rules expire, advocates and law enforcement authorities say many illegal immigrants, who number an estimated 300,000 in North Carolina, are now driving without licenses or insurance.

I've really never quite understood why drivers' licenses and bank accounts drive the Lou Dobbs crowd insane. If you think that deporting 10 million people, many with dependents and many others who came here as children, is sound policy then I suppose it makes sense, but otherwise I think it's pretty obvious that keeping people in the system, instead of in the shadows, is preferable.