Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens

Despite the tightening up of identity requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, there are still two states that issue licenses to illegal aliens: New Mexico and Washington. In New Mexico, Gov. Martinez has been urging the legislature to change the law to end that practice. In Washington, it is an issue being debated in the current election races for governor and attorney general.

Under the federal REAL ID law enacted in 2005, states must adopt measures to assure that illegal residents do not receive a driver’s license or the state’s licenses will no longer be recognized as valid ID by the federal government for such purposes as boarding airplanes, and entering federal buildings.

Yet, the defenders of illegal aliens continue to argue in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to the illegal residents. They assert “…when undocumented immigrants have access to driver’s licenses, it creates safer roads and allows them to purchase insurance.” (See FoxNews story)

That argument is patently false. It ignores the fact that because of their generally low earnings illegal aliens are least likely to have well-maintained vehicles and to buy and retain insurance. Despite New Mexico’s allowing licenses to illegal aliens, it has the second highest share of uninsured drivers in the country. Further, illegal aliens – because of their immigration status rather than their insurance status – are more likely to flee the scene of an accident. It also ignores that the incidence of alcohol-related accidents in the United States is highest among those who come from Mexico and Central America. Finally, the arguments of the apologists for illegal aliens is nonsensical in the sense that illegal aliens, like anyone else, is less likely to cause an traffic accident if they use public transportation.

Furthermore, the primary reason for the REAL ID law is that, in an era of international terrorism, the nation’s security is enhanced if the foreigners who receive licenses have been screened for legal entry.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Really why are even discussing this, we all don’t belong here, our families all come from different countries. The only true americans are the Native Americcan (indians) our ancesters came here illagally an took what was not theirs.

  2. avatar

    U guys are gonna sit there and tell me that it’s only the illegals that cause accidents and drive drunk? Are u guys for real? Look at everybody on that subject cuz it’s us also especially if Ur out at the bar or coming home from a party. And Ur stupid enough to drive drunk what do u think is going to happen? It’s not only them it’s us too! We drink we use drugs we party and we legally have licenses and insurance on our vehicles. Now what do u say about that one smart-asses?

  3. avatar

    Virginia used to give licenses to illegal aliens who had received work permits while they were in deportation proceedings. Carlos Martinelli Montana was one such. He then drove drunk on several occasions and lost his license, BUT CONTINUED TO DRIVE AND TO DRIVE DRUNK. He finally killed a nun. Point being: letting an illegal alien get a driver’s license doesn’t change his basic attitude that he can do what he wants when he wants, even if it means breaking laws.

  4. avatar
    softwarengineer on

    Legal Americans Better Make Sure to Have Uninsured Motorist Added on Their Auto Insurance Policy

    If either Obama or Romney are elected.