The Conversation

No drivers' licenses for illegal aliens in Florida

On Tuesday, Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, vetoed a bill that would have given drivers' licenses to illegal aliens, specifically those young "Dreamers" we hear so much about.  The Governor explained his veto by noting that it built on President Obama's trans-legal abuse of executive power to impose the DREAM Act by fiat: "Although the Legislature may have been well-intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver's license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis."

National Journal headlined it story about the veto b quoting a Democrat state senator who called it "an anti-Hispanic bomb," and helpfully advances that Democrat narrative by beginning the piece with, "Risking a Hispanic backlash in favor of his conservative base..."

But as Erick Erickson noted at RedState, Scott ran as an "immigration hardliner" who campaigned against amnesty, and still won 50 percent of the Hispanic vote.  His numbers are soggy today for a variety of other reasons, including conservative anger over his flip-flop on something else he campaigned against: ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid.

There has been a long-running effort by the Left to conflate illegal immigration with immigration in general, building solidarity between legal immigrants and lawbreakers.  This is very useful politically, and it ties neatly into leftist racial politics.  A keen sense of racial identity and adversity is a great way to keep a large number of people voting in unison.  It's actually much closer to the technical definition of "corporatism" than the commonly cited fusion between Big Government and Big Business interests.

But why should legal immigrants accept this political construct?  Why should anyone who did the hard work of immigrating legally be cheered by the notion of illegals getting drivers' licenses, which have significance far beyond the legal operation of motor vehicles?  

Pushing this kind of irrational solidarity between legal and illegal residents is also the very opposite of the "assimilation" commonly held as desirable for immigrants.  To put it bluntly, an assimilated immigrant should, by definition, feel he has more in common with his native-born neighbor than someone who crossed the border with his old country illegally.  As a practical matter, legal immigrants and native-born citizens should have more policy interests in common, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  

A just nation derives its powers from the consent of the governed; that means it acts on behalf of the actual citizens it governs, regardless of where they were born, not foreign powers or foreign citizens.  When any group of citizens is made to feel it has more in common with foreigners, as a matter of either political engineering or government policy, something is terribly wrong.



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