The Norwalk DMV

The Norwalk DMV (January 4, 2013)

The next round of debate over how to deal with the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in our communities is about to kick off Sunday with calls for allowing those folks to get Connecticut drivers' licenses.

A rally to launch the campaign is scheduled for this Sunday starting at 2 p.m. at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven, sponsored by the Congregations Organized for  New Connecticut.

The argument is that the estimated 54,000 undocumented immigrants in Connecticut need to drive in order to get to work every day, or buy groceries, or take or pick up their kids from school or basketball practice. And if they can't get licenses they'll be driving illegally anyway.

Supporters (like New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, and state Sen. Andrew Maynard, who co-chairs the legislature's Transportation Committee) argue state law should be changed so these folks don't need to provide proof of legal immigration status in order to get their license.

Father David Blanchfield, of St. Jerome Church in Norwalk, says the current "self-defeating policy is blind to reality" and "does nothing to solve our immigration problems. All it does is make our roads less safe, our immigrant families less secure and car insurance more expensive."

This would be the state equivelent of New Haven issuing city identity cards to undocumented immigrants, and you recall what kind of controversy erupted over that one.

But New Mexico and Washington state already require all immigrant drivers to get licenses, and advocates say that's resulted in huge drops in uninsured motorist and fatal car accidents.