Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Republicans Implement an Discriminatory Drivers License Policy

The decision to refuse non-residents and non-citizens a driver’s license seems un-American. Americans have enjoyed a long history of vehicular travel. The ability to move around the country and live anywhere we want seems important. In other countries with states, identification is required in order to move from state to state. We take the opposite of this totalitarian policy for granted in the United States. Now, the country seems to be reverting back to the Articles of Confederation when every state was on its own and statehood could be compared to nationality.

This policy can be used for some rather devious purposes such as the direct discrimination of foreign students who are here legally. The license has become a means of identification that police often use even when they have no right under the Fourth Amendment. Most people just hand their licenses over because they do not think they have anything to hide or they believe they have an obligation. I can imagine a situation where a foreign student or a visitor may feel threatened by handing over their foreign license. It seems like a clear way to separate individuals for discrimination and considering these “imperatives of national security” I am afraid of the behavior police officers can engage in with this new policy.

Additionally, there are other uses for a license that could unfairly restrain visitors to Michigan or individuals who have no desire to apply for a license. Airlines are making it more difficult to travel within the country without a license. Voters in Michigan are now required to present a license. Simple business transactions such as the use of credit cards, banking, or cashing a check require a license. This policy makes all of these activities unfairly burdensome.

Also, business has gone global. Global businesses depend on temporary international employees and this policy will not only burden the employees, but the businesses as well. If Michigan wants to compete in a global economy, this fetish for security is going to be hard to reconcile. Businesses want as little regulation as possible in many instances. This policy only makes their jobs more difficult in merging their international employees together with domestics and American life. The Republicans have just found another way to lose jobs in the name of security. Yet, who honestly believes they are secure in an economy this troubled?

If security is the only concern justifying these intrusions, then it is important to remind ourselves that some of the hijackers on 9/11 were in this country as legal residents. For those who were not legal residents, passports and licenses were forged. Terri Lynn Land and Mike Cox are only punishing law abiding citizens for the terrorist actions that they have already been victim to. Maybe they should change their priorities. The State of Michigan should be more worried about forgeries than preventing people from attaining legitimate licenses and harassing visitors. There should be excitement over visitors, tourists, and international diversity because right now this state is suffering from a huge population decline. Michigan needs to be practical and not rhetorical. Michigan needs to discard this policy and discourage harassment.