Indiana Driver’s Licenses Bills Gain Momentum
FAIR Take | February 2023
Bills to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens are gaining momentum in Indiana. In both legislative chambers, these bills have passed their initial committees of reference. If Indiana does pass a driver’s license bill for illegal aliens that is signed by Governor Eric Holcomb (R), it would be the first state completely controlled by Republicans to do so and would be complicit in the Biden administration’s efforts to circumvent our nation’s immigration laws.
The Senate Bill, SB 248, sponsored by Senator Blake Doriot (R-Goshen) would issue a “driving privilege card” to illegal aliens who show proof they have paid taxes for at least one year, submit fingerprints for a criminal background check, and have auto insurance. Senator Doriot claims the driving privileges cards are needed because these individuals “are participating in our economy, in our society. They are employed.” Ironically, the very reason Senator Doriot advances to support his legislation is exactly why it should not pass – “they are employed.” It is unlawful for illegal aliens to work in the United States. (8 USC 1324a)
SB 248 narrowly passed the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee on February 7 by a 5-4 vote. The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee to consider the fiscal implications.
House Bill (HB) 1050 sponsored by Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) differs from SB 248. It purports not to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens but rather only to individuals with “lawful status” including individuals paroled into the United States, those with a pending or approved application for asylum, those with a pending or approved application for temporary protected status, or those with an approved deferred action status. But by doing this, HB 1050 essentially gives a driver’s license to every individual the Biden Administration is allowing into the country contrary to our immigration laws. Many state Attorney Generals, including Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita, have challenged the Biden Administration’s immigration policies, yet now Indiana lawmakers want to grant a driver’s license to those individuals who benefitted from those unlawful policies that contravene our immigration laws.. This bill which appears to limit the issuance of driver’s licenses in reality will provide them to practically every alien.
On February 7, HB 1050 unanimously passed the House Roads and Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Representative Pressel, the bill’s sponsor. It has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee, which will hold a hearing on the bill on February 13.
It is ironic that Republican-controlled Indiana is now considering giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens at all. In 2021, US Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana) cosponsored federal legislation that would block funding to states that granted driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. When the legislation was introduced, Senator Braun said, “illegal immigrants should not be granted driver’s licenses in any state. It’s a threat to national security, complicates the already extremely challenging work of immigration enforcement, and is an affront to those who come to America the right way in accordance with the law.”
Moreover, granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens frustrates the intent of the REAL ID Act enacted by Congress after 9-11. The goal of the REAL ID Act was to ensure that those individuals in the country illegally with the intent to do us harm are not provided with the documents to facilitate their mission. The nineteen 9-11 terrorists had 30 state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses between them.
If Indiana does pass legislation to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and it is signed by Governor Holcomb, it will be the 19th state to enact such legislation and it will have the dubious distinction of being the first Republican-controlled state to do so.