This post is by OK Policy intern Jacob Tharp. Jacob is a recent University of Oklahoma graduate in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies.
Oklahoma’s approximately 95,000 undocumented immigrants are a force in Oklahoma’s economy, accounting for about 1 in 30 members of the workforce and contributing roughly $85 million in state and local taxes annually. But despite their positive economic contributions, undocumented residents face arrest and/or deportation for doing something that many Oklahomans do every day: driving.
Although immigration is mainly a federal policy issue, many states recognize that undocumented immigrants will continue to live, work, go to school, and drive here, and that there are benefits to ensuring that undocumented immigrants who are contributing positively can obey state laws. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license or equivalent. This growing list of states includes progressive strongholds such as California, but also conservative states like Utah. Oklahoma should join these states and extend legal driving privileges to our undocumented neighbors. Such a policy would not only improve overall public safety, but could also help lower Oklahoma’s staggering uninsured motorist rate and generate revenue for a state that desperately needs it.
continue reading To improve public safety and insurance rates, allow undocumented Oklahomans to drive legally