Proposed legislation that would grant Georgia driver's licenses to illegal immigrants appears like a good idea at first glance, but would it work?

The rationale for the bill is that many of Georgia's illegal immigrants drive anyway, and allowing them to get driver's licenses would get more of them to learn better driving skills and carry insurance. Its backers also suggest the policy would allow officials to identify and track these people.

But if illegal immigrants are so intent on avoiding detection for fear of deportation, it's unlikely they would line up for driver's licenses.

Some people, like Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which supports tighter immigration controls, say it makes no sense to license people whose presence violates federal law.

But the reality is that an estimated 700,000 Latinos live in Georgia, and half are probably illegal. They are among an estimated 9 million illegal immigrants nationwide. The federal Immigration and Naturalization Service has about 2,000 officers to enforce the immigration laws.

The problem of how to deal with illegal immigrants becomes even dicier if they have children born in this country, who are automatically U.S. citizens.

Although the driver's bill might have good intent, it doesn't seem like a workable answer to the problem.



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