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April 18, 2005

[TNimmigrant_rights] ACTION ALERT--TN Immigrant and Refugee Access to Driver's Licenses AT RISK!

Dear Friends:
Immigrant and refugee access to Tennessee driving documents is AT GREAT RISK! Both of the anti-immigrant driver’s license bills pending in the Tennessee legislature are scheduled for committee votes this Tuesday and Wednesday (4/19 and 4/20). Please call the committee members listed below to urge them to oppose these bills. If you are from middle Tennessee, we also need your help at the legislature on Tuesday. If you are interested in advocating at the legislature on Tuesday, please call David Lubell at 615-294-0603 or email him at david@tnimmigrant.org. One of these bills would require all driving exams be given only in English, the other would repeal the driving certificate law.

Please Oppose:

· SB 0303 Ketron/HB 0242*DuBois- DRIVER’S LICENSE TRANSLATION REPEAL (read full text). This bill, if passed into law, would require the written driver license exam to be given only in English. This would erase our recent victories in obtaining languages such as Arabic and Vietnamese, and keep us from obtaining more languages such as Farsi, Somali and Kurdish. It would also erase languages currently available such as Spanish and Korean. If passed, this law would prevent tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees who know the rules of the road from obtaining a driver’s license or certificate. CLICK HERE FOR HELPFUL TALKING POINTS or scroll to bottom of this page.

· SB 1050 Ketron, Tracy/HB2132 by *Rowland, *Casada, *Brooks (Knox), *Stanley, *Maggart, *Johnson P, *Todd, *Baird, *Cochran.) - DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL (read full text). This bill would change the state’s driver’s license requirements, by eliminating the driving certificate, and requiring a driver’s license applicant to provide a social security number or INS documentation. This bill would prevent tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants from obtaining any driving document. Thus Tennessee would be in the same situation it found itself before 2001: there would be tens of thousands of individuals on Tennessee’s roads that had not been licensed, and did not have insurance. CLICK HERE FOR HELPFUL TALKING POINTS or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Committee Members:

· The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on both SB 0303 (DRIVER’S LICENSE TRANSLATION) and SB 1050 (DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL) on Wednesday, April 20th at 11:00 am. Please contact the following committee members to oppose these bills:

WEST TN: Chair Norris (R): Phone (615) 741-1967, sen.mark.norris@legislature.state.tn.us

MIDDLE TN: Vice Chair Tracy (D): Phone 615-741-1066, sen.jim.tracy@legislature.state.tn.us

Beavers (R): Phone (615) 741-2421, sen.mae.beavers@legislature.state.tn.us

Cooper (D): Phone (615) 741-6694, sen.jerry.cooper@legislature.state.tn.us

Kurita (D): Phone (615) 741-2374, sen.rosalind.kurita@legislature.state.tn.us

EAST TN: Crutchfield (D): Phone (615) 741-6682, sen.ward.crutchfield@legislature.state.tn.us

Hagood (R): Phone (615) 741-1648, sen.jamie.hagood@legislature.state.tn.us

Secretary Kilby (D): Phone (615) 741-1449, sen.tommy.kilby@legislature.state.tn.us

Southerland (R): Phone (615) 741-3851, sen.steve.southerland@legislature.state.tn.us

· The Public Safety & Rural Roads subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on the HB2132 (DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL) on Tuesday, April 19th at 2:15 pm. Please contact the following committee members:

WEST TN: Vice Chair Pleasant: Phone (615) 741-7084, rep.w.c.pleasant@legislature.state.tn.us

MIDDLE TN: Chair Fraley: Phone (615) 741-8695, rep.george.fraley@legislature.state.tn.us

Cobb: Phone (615) 741-6824, rep.curt.cobb@legislature.state.tn.us

Fowlkes: Phone (615) 741-1864, rep.joe.fowlkes@legislature.state.tn.us

Tidwell: Phone (615) 741-7098, rep.john.tidwell@legislature.state.tn.us

EAST TN: Davis: Phone (615) 741-1717, rep.david.davis@legislature.state.tn.us

Harmon: Phone (615) 741-6849, rep.bill.harmon@legislature.state.tn.us

Hill: Phone 615-741-2251, rep.matthew.hill@legislature.state.tn.us

Winningham: Phone (615) 741-6852, rep.leslie.winningham@legislature.state.tn.us

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Driver’s License Translation, SB 0303 by Ketron, HB 0242 by DuBois
Requires driver license exams be given in English. Requires written driver license exams be given in English only.

If passed, SB 0303 would:

1) Threaten the safety of our roads: Drivers don’t need to be fluent in English to drive safely. However, we all need to take the exam in a language we understand well, to ensure that all safety regulations are fully understood. All people who take the driving exam must demonstrate understanding of signage in English, and everyone who can demonstrate knowledge of driving safety should be able to drive. Without test translation, the number of untested and uninsured motorists will skyrocket. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “an unlicensed driver is 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver with a valid license.”

2) Deny refugees access to work: Refugees are required to find jobs within months of arriving in the United States, often before they are proficient in English. The best way to ensure that refugees have access to work opportunities and are able to fully participate in their communities is to enable them to drive. Refugees come to the U.S. to escape persecution, not be victims of unnecessary and unjust discrimination.

3) Make it harder for immigrants and refugees to learn English: Immigrants and refugees know better than anybody the value and importance of learning English. Adult ESL classes in Tennessee are filled beyond capacity. ELL programs in public schools are under-funded and under-resourced. Even so, second generation immigrants are far more likely to have lost their native language than to not have learned English. The best way for immigrants and refugees to learn English is for them to work and fully participate in their community. Depriving limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals access to safe and legal driving will make it less likely that they learn English.

Driver’s License Documentation, SB 1050 by Ketron, HB 2132 by Rowland, Cassada, Brooks (Knox), Stanley, Maggart, Johnson P, Todd, Baird, Cochran

If passed, SB 1050 would:

1) Threaten the safety of our roads: This bill would basically revert back to the pre-2001 driver’s license law, when no immigrant without a social security number or USCIS documentation could drive legally or obtain insurance. TIRRC did not support implementation of the driving certificate program, but the law at least acknowledges the importance of ensuring that everyone on the road is competent to drive and has insurance. Repeal of the driving certificate law without increasing eligibility for driver’s licenses would prevent tens of thousands of Tennessee immigrants from driving legally. These individuals would still drive, but would not know the state’s traffic laws, and without a license would not have access to auto insurance. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “an unlicensed driver is 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver with a valid license.”

2) Threaten the safety of our communities: Repeal of the driver’s license law would make it difficult—if not impossible—for law enforcement to identify and track Tennessee immigrants without social security numbers. These individuals would not have state identification, and would not have their records entered in state databases. President Bush agrees that having all immigrants identifiable improves homeland security. As he stated on January 7, 2004 during a press conference in the White House, “Our homeland will be more secure when we can better account for those who enter the country, instead of the current situation in which millions of people are unknown to the law.”

3) Drain valuable state resources: Instead of allocating their limited resources to the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of dangerous criminals, law enforcement and court officials would spend their time and money apprehending hard-working immigrants for driving with no license or certificate.

Stephen Fotopulos

Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition

1103 Chapel Avenue

Nashville, TN 37206


If you wish to be added to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition e-mail list, please send your name, e-mail adress, and a brief (two sentences max.) explanation of why you are interested in joining to David Lubell at david@tnimmigrant.org.

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Posted by VisaLawyer at April 18, 2005 03:32 PM


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