Every tax is a pay cut.  Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation

Licensing of Immigrants Sunday, November 2, 2003
Chief Edward M. Merrick, Jr.  
TO: Members of the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor Mitt Romney
FROM:   Chief Edward M. Merrick, Jr., President; Chief George J. DiBlasi (Ret.)
Executive Director; and Jack Collins, General Counsel, Massachusetts Police
Chiefs Association
RE: Licensing of Immigrant Taxpayers
CC: Local Police Chiefs

In light of slanted press reports and self-serving efforts by various parties to mischaracterize this Association's position, this memo will attempt to spell out exactly what we believe makes sense from a local law enforcement point of view when considering allowing immigrant taxpayers to apply for drivers licenses.  We were not asked, nor did we ever endorse licensing truly illegal aliens.  This is beyond our area of expertise.  Obviously, unless and until a way of confirming the identity and legal status of foreign workers is agreed upon, we do not support any changes that would endanger national security.

We are not "waffling"!  This has been and continues to be our position:  This Association endorses the concept of finding a suitable way to properly and lawfully allow taxpaying foreigners living and working in this state to register and insure motor vehicles and be properly identified and licensed.

The Registrar of Motor Vehicles is in the best position to determine what forms of identification are required to assure that illegal aliens are not able to manipulate the system and become licensed improperly.  When we met with the Registrar and officials from the Executive Office of Public Safety last summer, the possibility of using the Federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) seemed to have merit.  Apparently, after months of investigation, the flaws in the ITIN system make it a less attractive alternative.  We are hopeful that some form of identification can be found that satisfies legitimate homeland security concerns.

It is clear that there are large numbers of valuable and responsible foreign workers living in Massachusetts (some estimates are in the hundreds of thousands.)  The vast majority appear to be hard-working, law-abiding individuals who purchase and drive motor vehicles, primarily to secure and maintain employment.  Reportedly, most are in compliance with applicable immigration laws or have appeals pending.  If they are here illegally, it is up to the INS or other federal agencies to take appropriate action.  Massachusetts law does not authorize local police officers to enforce immigration laws.  Nor are they trained to either identify or deal with persons in various stages of the complicated immigration process.

We see value in a system that will have persons photographed and their places of residence identified.  Perhaps a fingerprinting, DNA or annual registration component could also be added.  All this would help law enforcement at the local, state and federal level do their job better.

On a very practical level, other Massachusetts residents would benefit by having more insured vehicles in the event of an accident.  Similarly, the other driver would be more likely to identify himself or herself, rather than flee the scene.  Reportedly, the state would also receive tens of millions of dollars in licensing and registration fees.  If a proper system can be found whereby the identity of foreign workers can be assured, everyone will benefit.

Send comments to: hjw2001@gmail.com