Massachusetts recently identified hundreds of refugees who obtained Massachusetts driver’s licenses by converting from Arizona licenses. By taking advantage of Arizona’s lax language and testing requirements, non-English speakers were able to take driving tests with translators, or bypass state testing altogether by training and testing with private driving schools. While Massachusetts offers the written exam in 26 languages, it does not allow the written tests to be taken with a translator as Arizona does.
It should be startling to English-speaking drivers to learn they are sharing the road with licensed drivers who cannot pass English language driving tests – and can even travel out of state to avoid them. Common sense would dictate that an understanding of English should be required to drive in the U.S. Shouldn’t licensed drivers be able to read road signs?
Inconsistent testing and residency requirements between states threaten public safety. Arizona, recently a trailblazer on state immigration enforcement, continues to allow non-state residents to obtain Arizona driver’s licenses. While the state requires proof of legal U.S. residency, loopholes allow non-Arizona residents to avoid their own state’s licensing requirements and open-up the system to potential fraud.
Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano postponed the deadline for full compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which establishes uniform national standards for driver’s license issuance, to January 2013. REAL ID was passed in response to recommendations from the 9/11 Commission and requires states to revise licensing laws in order to make it virtually impossible for illegal aliens to obtain valid driver’s licenses or other government-issued identification.
New Mexico and Washington continue to protect illegal aliens at the cost of national security by allowing illegal aliens to acquire driver’s license and state IDs.