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Letting Illegal Aliens Get Drivers Licenses

The bill is likely to fail or be watered down. The legislation is backed by the governor, but the reasons may be more political than public policy driven.

Since September 11th it's tough to get a Florida drivers license. You must prove you are here legally, that you can drive, and prove that you are who you say you are. Residency requirements in 20 other states are so weak that Florida doesn't honor their licenses without other proof.

Now, legislation to give foreigners here illegally the right to drive has many at the capitol scratching their heads.

Sen. Jim Sebesta, (R) Tampa, Senate Transportation Chairman, says, "It just seems to me like we are saying to folks that have broken our laws, come on in it's okay."

Jeb Bush is pushing the idea, suggesting it would get people already driving illegally to start buying insurance.

I've got my view and I'm going to stick with it, take the heat along with it," says Gov. Bush.

Behind the scenes we were told there was never a commitment to try and get this bill passed, just a commitment to get a hearing.

Today Hispanics make up 17 percent of the state's population. Political scientist Lance Dehaven Smith says it's more about the politics of the future than driving today.

"By 2020 they will be a quarter of the state’s population. Unless Republicans can attract them into the party, the Republican Party will slowly fade in Florida," Lance says.

Florida gave licenses to 15 of the 19 9/11 highjackers, so it is not likely to start licensing people who have already broken the law simply by being here, but the idea plays well in the minority community for those who can vote.

The Florida Catholic Conference supports the plan to give licenses to illegal immigrants. They say it will actually help authorities track down any suspected terrorists.


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