Denying illegal migrants drivers licenses may make us feel better, but it’s not at all clear that it makes us safer. The problem, of course, is that there is no legal way for low-skilled immigrants to come to the United States, and like it or not, we still need such workers. Does it really make sense to insist that Americans who, on average, have 13-plus years of education work in poultry plants or slaughterhouses or pick lettuce and peaches?
The let’s-just-enforce-the-law approach ignores the fact that our legal immigration laws are ill-suited to our economy. We need workers at both ends of the skills spectrum — more engineers, mathematicians, computer software designers, etc., as well as more agricultural workers and semi-skilled laborers. And the hysteria over illegal immigration and amnesty has made it nearly impossible to make necessary changes to our immigration laws that would make them more responsive to market forces.
The groups screaming the loudest about illegal immigration, FAIR, Numbers USA, et al, also happen to be the ones most opposed to legal immigration. As Jason Riley points out today in the Wall Street Journal, the way to end illegal immigration is to admit more people legally, either as temporary workers or permanent residents.