Georgia marchers rally for permitting illegals to drive

| 9/21/2004

Hundreds of Hispanic protesters braved heavy rains outside the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta Sept. 16 demanding driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

Attempts to secure driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in Georgia have repeatedly failed as the issue has gained little support in the state Legislature.

Separate bills were introduced in the state House and Senate in 2003 that would allow Georgians to apply for driver’s licenses, whether or not they are legal residents of the United States.

The House measure, co-sponsored by Rep. Pedro Marin, D-Duluth, was quickly shelved. The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Sam Zamarripa, D-Atlanta, cleared a Senate panel last year. But Senate Republicans sent it back to committee early this year and it never resurfaced.

“Nobody said the battle would be easy,” Sissie Santiago, head of the Hispanic Services Foundation in Marietta, GA, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Santiago said allowing illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses would help all state residents because the immigrants would buy vehicle insurance, protecting other drivers when they have accidents. Georgia has an estimated 228,000 illegal immigrants, the newspaper reported.

Opponents say licenses for illegal immigrants would reward lawbreaking and could make it easier for terrorists to live in the country undetected.