From the Editors

Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants benefit everybody

New Jersey just became the 14th state to offer them.

For most adults in the United States, being able to drive a car is more of a necessity than a luxury. An overwhelming number of people depend on their car to get to work, school, and doctor’s appointments. That number includes the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country—which is why last month New Jersey became the 14th state to pass a law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive state-sponsored driver’s licenses.

States have a practical incentive to offer driver’s licenses to those without legal status: it brings in revenue to the state from title and license fees, and it generates economic activity through immigrants’ purchase of vehicles, auto insurance, gas, and auto parts. Furthermore, by making undocumented immigrants legal drivers, the law cuts down on hit-and-run cases and ensures a more orderly enforcement of traffic laws.

But most important, the law brings order and common sense to the everyday lives of people like New Jersey resident Margarita Rodriguez, who every six months needs to take her son to an ear specialist in another town. Without the ability to drive legally, she has to take a two-hour bus ride instead of a 20-minute car ride to the appointment. Something as simple as arranging a visit to the doctor puts great stress on her family, forcing her to miss work and her children to miss school. Lacking a license also presents an obstacle to accessing care in an emergency.