State’s Largest City Backs Driver License’s For Illegal Immigrants

By John Celock

The city council in Kansas’ largest city is backing an effort for the state to grant driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

The Wichita City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to include the driver’s licenses bill onto the city’s list of legislative priorities for 2015. The bill, which is being pushed by state Rep. Ponka-We Victors (D-Wichita), has been pushed by progressives nationally as part of an effort to say that this would allow illegal immigrants to obtain car insurance and move into society.

Victors, who previously pushed the bill unsuccessfully in 2013, has argued that the bill would improve driver safety in Kansas.

“They are in fear of going to and from work, to going to church, taking their kids to school,” she told in November. “Some of the anti-immigration bills that were going to round up everybody and send them back — we can’t. We don’t have the financial resources to do that as a state.”

Victors could not be reached for comment Thursday for comment on Wichita’s actions. The bill would cover driving and insurance but would not be considered an official identification for travel on an airplane.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer told in November that he was concerned with the safety issue, along with the economic impact. He said that many illegal immigrants work in fields that require driving.

While the bill is making a comeback and has the backing of the state’s largest city, those in Topeka do not believe it will pass in the coming legislation session, noting the opposition in the Legislature to illegal immigration.

“Despite the push by the Wichita City Council, I do not see this moving forward in Kansas,” state Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee) told The Celock Report. “Kansans have a deep respect for the rule of law.”

Hildabrand indicated that he would be opposing Victors’ bill, noting that its passage would “only serve to add legitimacy to unlawful actions.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), who has worked on legislation around the country on the immigration issue, told The Celock Report that the bill would “make it easier for illegal immigrants” to remain in Wichita.

Kobach noted that this would deny jobs to American citizens and hurt the state budget due to benefits for illegal immigrants, which he said is averaging $19,600 a year for a family with children.

Kobach argued against the argument that the bill would expand driver safety in the state, saying that illegal immigrants have been known to carry multiple identification cards with different names in order to cover up criminal activity. He said he wanted to make sure that the state issuing the licenses could “facilitate criminal activity.”

“The downsides are much more significant. Most illegal aliens don’t bring with them reliable identification,” Kobach said. “It is much easier for them to make up a fraudulent name. You end up with a state driver’s license which is an important document for someone who has created a fraudulent identity. This is not speculation this happens all the time.”

Currently 10 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia provide driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. The issue has been pushed by progressive activists nationally, but has received opposition from Democrats in some states. In 2007, a push by then New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) to offer driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants was blocked by a coalition led in part by then Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul (D), who was her county’s motor vehicles agent. Hochul is now New York’s lieutenant governor-elect.

State House Minority Leader-elect Tom Burroughs (D-Kansas City) told The Celock Report that he would be interested in exploring the issue, noting that there has been discussion of a form of identification with law enforcement to handle the insurance issue.

Kobach questioned why the Wichita City Council was taking a stand on the legislation and including it in a list of issues that normally cover local government priorities.

“I think it is very odd for a city council to be expressing an opinion on this issue. It is not a local issue,” The appropriate people who should be expressing the opinion on this are the state legislators from the Wichita area. Those individuals are there to represent the residents of Sedgwick County on state issues like who gets a driver’s license.”