Mexico and Driver’s Licenses

Mexico Drivers License PhotoIn light of the recent flap over whether the United States should issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, USA Today helpfully notes that Mexico requires proof of legal residency before issuing licenses.

Which, I’m sure, is a real inconvenience for all those gringos headed south of the border to take jobs from hard-working Mexicans.

Photo: Chris Hawley, USA Today/Arizona Republic.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Latin America
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    This is one of a host of issues on which we should be negotiating with Mexico for strict reciprocity. Check fee simple property ownership for another.

  2. “Which, I’m sure, is a real inconvenience for all those gringos headed south of the border to take jobs from hard-working Mexicans.”

    I know that was meant tongue in cheek, but Mexico actually has a *huge* problem with illegal immigrants from Central and South America moving north looking for better jobs. The problem is almost an identical mirror of the problem we have here.

  3. Scott Swank says:

    This is an issue that is simple on purely technical merits. Issuing drivers licenses to everyone reduces hit-and-run accidents and decreases the number of uninsured motorists. That’s a no-brainer.

    However, to some it also legitimizes illegal immigrants.

    So to my mind we’re better off issuing drivers licenses to everyone, but it’s not very politically attractive. So in terms of last night’s debate, count me in with Obama — I’d vote for it, but I wouldn’t sponsor it.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    Scott,

    Don’t expect to see Obama featured in profiles in political courage with such a heroic stand.

    You know we could also reduce hit and run accidents if we declared we wouldn’t chase bank robbers (or any other thieves) if they flee in a car. The robbers wouldn’t be in fear of being caught, so they wouldn’t feel a need to speed. Perhaps you can suggest this as a bill Obama would support.

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    Of course, ALL of these issues could be avoided if we had a RATIONAL immigration policy that:

    1) Provided a path to legal residency and citizenship for current illegals.
    2) Substantially increased the annual number of available visas and other related documents for legal immigrant status.

    Unfortunately, neither of these things will happen.

  6. Scott_T says:

    This is an issue that is simple on purely technical merits. Issuing drivers licenses to everyone reduces hit-and-run accidents and decreases the number of uninsured motorists. That’s a no-brainer.

    However, to some it also legitimizes illegal immigrants.

    The thing is, if Voting ID checks were required to prevent voter fraud, allowing illegal aliens to have valid State issued IDs would let them vote also. As probably few polling works could be trusted to check the drivers license well enough.

    That’d be a big problem.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    Of course, ALL of these issues could be avoided if we had a RATIONAL immigration policy that:

    1) Provided a path to legal residency and citizenship for current illegals.
    2) Substantially increased the annual number of available visas and other related documents for legal immigrant status.

    Unfortunately, neither of these things will happen.

    Alex, while I support both of those things I don’t do so because I think it would reduce the number of illegal immigrants and I’d be interested in your proof that it would.

    There is some proportion of illegal immigrant workers who are interesting to employers because they’re illegal. I have no idea what that proportion is but I’d be interested in seeing some indication of what it might be.

  8. John425 says:

    RE: Post by Schuler: Why do either of those two things need to happen?? (i.e 1) “Provided a path to legal residency and citizenship for current illegals.
    2) Substantially increased the annual number of available visas and other related documents for legal immigrant status.”

    Last time I looked, native born minorities were a huge part of the high school dropout groups and they at least ought to have a shot at the entry level jobs.

    Up here in Microsoft land, they use the H1 visa to hire cheap labor. A Hindi will work for $50K and the going rate is $80K. Then Microsoft says that there are no US workers available and they need to import labor. What a crock!

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    John425:

    The subject under discussion is illegal immigration not legal immigration. We don’t have a problem here with illegal Indian immigrants—whether we have too many legal Indian immigrants is a topic for another comment thread.

    Nearly all of our illegal immigrants are Mexicans. We have an absurdly low number of work visas available to Mexicans at this point—10,000 or something equally absurd. It should be substantially increased to 50,000 or even 100,000 per year.

    And one of our great strengths is that residents become citizens. A key reason that France and Germany have much greater problems with disaffected “immigrant” youth than we do is they have no birthright citizenship.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW, I agree that the H1-B visa program is abused. My solution: there should be a national clearinghouse on which employers who want to bring in a worker on an H1-B visa must advertise the job.

  11. Tano says:

    Alex, Dave,

    Thank you for stating the rational and sensible policy. Why is that we hear this so infrequently in our political discourse?

    Any rational immigration policy will regulate immigration levels to match (as best as possilbe) the needs our economy. A robust, growing economy needs unskilled labor. There never is much poltical support for raising quotas on unskilled labor. The result – the market uses its magic invisible hand, and the workers appear whether we provide legal channels or not.

    The obvious first step to any solution is to establish legal channels for unskilled workers at a level that meets the needs of our growing economy.

    Once these channels are in place, the cross-border incursions will drop dramatically. No question but that anyone coming here to work would gladly go through the official channels if they existed. At that point, we can enforce the border – the people crossing then would most likely really be up to no good, and their numbers would be tiny relative to the traffic today.

  12. John Burgess says:

    Dave: I’m not convinced that nationality-by-birthplace regs make sense anymore. The huge number of immigrants militate against it, in my book.

    The ‘tail’ immigrants bring with them (that is, the numbers of other immigrants–children, parents, spouses, siblings) is enormous. Unlike in the past, cheap airfares make it very likely that every one of them who wishes will be put on the list of legal immigrants.

    I think the US–as all other countries–should have some say in who they let become citizens.

  13. James Joyner says:

    I’m not convinced that nationality-by-birthplace regs make sense anymore.

    I never thought they did given that the border is essentially uncontrollable. It’s more than regs that need changing, though, it’s the 14th Amendment.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

  14. floyd says:

    Alex, Dave, Tano;
    Do you guys even remember the 1980’s?