License issue is a challenge

Is New Hampshire – with its Democratic-dominated House and Senate, as well as an all-Democratic federal delegation – now a more liberal state than Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and even New York?

That is obviously a subjective question. However, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 204-137 to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, something the aforementioned states do not allow.

“It’s important to understand the function of a driver’s license. In short, it tells us who someone is, where they live, and whether they are permitted to drive in our state. It does not address anyone’s immigration status,” New Hampshire Rep. Casey Conley, D-Dover, told The Telegraph last week.

“We have roughly 15,000 undocumented people in New Hampshire. Many of these people arrived here at a very young age, through no fault of their own. Many of these these people work and many already drive,” Conley added.

In Greater Nashua, 37 House members voted to give driver’s licenses to those who are unlawfully in the country, while 18 representatives voted in opposition and 12 did not vote on the legislation.

Those voting nay included House Minority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack.

“The consequences of this bill could be serious. With New Hampshire’s current laws, allowing illegal immigrants to receive a valid driver’s license could make it easier for them to participate in several other things, like vote in our elections,” he said.

“We should not be rewarding people in our state illegally, while millions of people around the world are waiting to come lawfully. It’s unfair,” Hinch added.

This is not an entirely new idea. In 1993, the state of Washington, home to the liberal bastion of Seattle, voted to license undocumented immigrants. States that have followed include New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Reasonable people can likely agree that this is a challenging issue. The Democrats are correct in that the state has no control regarding federal immigration matters. The Republicans rightly question whether the state should be extending rights to people who are already violating a law simply by being here.

We urge members of the Senate to carefully consider the consequences of this legislation upon receiving it from the House. If senators pass a version of it, Gov. Chris Sununu will have a significant choice to make in terms of signing or vetoing the legislation.