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Letters to Editor Decrying Confusing Driving Ability with Immigration Status

Following are two letters to the editor, the first by PJC attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher, responding to the Baltimore Sun's misguided coverage of motor vehicle accidents involving undocumented residents. baltimoresun.com Letters to the Editor August 20, 2007 Bad drivers come in all nationalities The sudden deaths of two Baltimore highway workers is a grave tragedy that vividly highlights the need for vigilance about road safety ("Guatemalan arrested in crash," Aug. 14). Sadly, The Sun's reporting distorted the situation with a veneer of xenophobia that suggested that the immigration status of the driver was somehow the real culprit. However, as the article later points out, last year more than a dozen people were killed in road work accidents, and two were killed in June alone. And the fact is that a person's immigration status has absolutely nothing to do with his or her ability to drive safely; good and bad drivers come in all shapes, colors and nationalities. That's precisely why Maryland's licensing laws rightly focus on driving ability and ignore immigration status. Indeed, requiring people to have proof of immigration status to obtain a license would actually make us less safe, not more. As multiple studies have demonstrated, requiring proof of immigration status to get a driver's license forces people without documentation to drive illegally, drive without insurance and to take other steps to evade law enforcement. Marylanders are therefore safer when drivers, regardless of immigration status, learn the rules of the road and become licensed and insured. Understanding this fact, business leaders, national security experts and even some police officials all protested a bill proposed in the last legislative session which would have required proof of immigration status to obtain a Maryland driver's license. Let's not confuse federal immigration law enforcement with local road safety Sally Dworak-Fisher Baltimore The writer is an attorney for the Public Justice Center. Licensing boosts national security How can The Sun justify the description of the accident recounted in the article "Guatemalan arrested in crash" (Aug. 15) as "the latest in a series of fatal traffic accidents involving illegal immigrants"? This characterization of the accident implies, without any evidence, that the immigration status of the driver in this incident was somehow a cause of the crash. But it would have been just as reasonable to call this accident, "the latest in a series of crashes involving 31-year-olds." The Sun also erred in suggesting that supporters of making driver's licenses available to immigrants slight concerns about border security. To the contrary, national security is strengthened when law enforcement has basic information about all residents, which makes it easier to isolate those few people who seek to endanger the rest of us. Allan Massie Baltimore

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