Group wants state to issue drivers
licenses to undocumented residents
By Holden Parrish
Idaho State Journal (Pocatello)
BOISE Activists rallied on the state Capitol steps
on Feb. 19 for a proposed bill that was killed last week.
Using the slogan "Justícia Ya!" Spanish
for "Justice Now!" the protesters, members
of the Idaho Community Action Network, said their support
of Idaho's undocumented residents was not wasted.
"We're here because this issue is not dead and it will
not die until we have justice," said Sam Blair, ICAN's
community organizer. Blair and other network members want
lawmakers to allow illegal aliens living in Idaho the opportunity
to obtain driver's licenses.
Pocatello Rep. Elmer Martinez tendered legislation recently
to that effect, but the House Transportation Committee rejected
his bill. In doing so, the committee denied it a public hearing,
an unjust act in the protesters' eyes.
"For three years now, (lawmakers) have been trying to
get a public hearing for this issue, and for the third year
in a row, they've been shut out," Blair said.
The activists wouldn't be denied, however. In lieu of a public
hearing, they staged their own. They brought several chairs
to the rally, each bearing the name of a Transportation Committee
representative. Orators spoke as much to the empty seats as
to the placard-bearing protesters before them.
"They refused to hear us inside the Statehouse, so we
decided to set up our hearing from the outside," ICAN
member Adán Ramírez said. "Denying people
the opportunity to speak is undemocratic, and Idaho has a
growing immigrant community that won't be ignored."
Martinez agreed with Blair's assessment that the issue wouldn't
go away. He added that it is not only a human rights issue,
but also a safety issue.
"We can't turn our heads to the fact that we have undocumented
workers driving on our roads every day," he said.