Law & Principles

Support for driver's license bill makes sense

March 14, 2023

Jonathan Small, Trent England, Ryan Haynie

Conservatives understand that we live in an imperfect world, full of imperfect people. Therefore good public policy addresses the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be. The federal government has failed, for decades, to secure our nation's borders and enforce immigration laws. The consequence is that there are millions of people living in these United States as illegal aliens. State officials are left to pick up the pieces.

To do that, lawmakers in the Oklahoma House and Senate have introduced HB2114 and SB669, which would create a way for people who file taxes but are illegal aliens to receive an Oklahoma driver's license. This is not, of course, the way things should work in any nation with the rule of law. Yet we take the world as it is, with the federal government having failed, leaving us to deal with the consequences. On balance, it makes the most sense to allow this particular group of illegal aliens to possess an Oklahoma driver's license.

These driver's licenses could be issued for four years only (not the eight possible for everyone else). The fees are slightly higher, but the process would be the same, except for two important safeguards. These licenses would clearly indicate that they are issued to non-residents, so that they could not be used as supposed proof of citizenship or otherwise legal residency. They would also be reported to voter registration officials.

This last protection is critical to safeguarding our elections, and would actually improve the voter lists. This is because all the data would be provided to election officials. For the first time, they would have some data on non-citizens living in Oklahoma, and could ensure that none of those people are on the voter list. OCPA, as an organization on the front lines of protecting voter integrity, the Electoral College, and fighting against rank choice voting, assisted lawmakers in drafting this provision because safeguarding our elections is the foundation on which all policymaking rests.

As mentioned above, these bills do not allow just any illegal alien to receive a driver's license, but only those who have filed taxes. In other words, these are likely people who are employed. In many cases, they are mothers and fathers, and some have lived in our communities for decades. Some have fled communist dictatorships and other failed states, truly hoping for a better life, only to be entangled in the bureaucratic absurdity of our nation’s immigration policies.

The reality is that these people are already driving on our roads. There is little state and local officials can do about that. State lawmakers can, however, let those people obtain insurance, in order to protect the rest of us. They can make it easier for them to pay the same fees and taxes the rest of us pay, so long as they are here.

Americans should be angry about the failures of politicians in Washington, D.C., to defend our country and to establish workable immigration policies that advance our national interest. At the same time, we should enact workable public policies at the state level that deal with the problems created by those failures. These bills do that, with important checks and balances.