The Idaho Dairy Industry has thrown its support behind state Senate Bill 1132, allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain driving privileges within the state. The legislation also allows privileges to be issued to any Idahoan who doesn’t want the federal Star Card.
Idaho Dairymen’s Association CEO Rick Naerebout said about half of Idaho’s Ag workers are in the country without status, so from his perspective the bill would be beneficial to all Idahoans. He cited the Office of Performance Evaluation, a non-partisan branch of the state government, which looked in late 2020 at the benefits other states have enjoyed after enacting similar legislation.
“What they found is that because the individuals are going through the driving education and testing that’s required for licensing, you have a safer roadway. You have a reduction in the damage done by accidents. The incidents where you have individuals fleeing the scene of an accident is reduced because they don’t have the fear of being discovered driving without a license.”
He noted, receiving a driving authorization card would also mean undocumented immigrants could obtain insurance.
Naerebout added that they are not shying away from the fact that there are individuals in the state without status, but the bill is a practical way of “improving a very difficult situation”. He added the state has little way to address the immigration issue, since decisions are made at the federal level.
“So the state is dealt a very difficult hand. This is one way where we can look at that difficult situation and say, ‘Okay, we can provide a safer place for our general constituents and we can provide a safer roadway. Why not look at trying to chip away at some of these societal issues that the federal government creates because they have not addressed immigration reform?'”
The bill is currently in the state Senate Transportation Committee.
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