Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Georgia: Making a Scapegoat of Immigrants

from The Huffington Post

by John Carlos Frey

Georgia state lawmakers are discriminating against immigrants through proposed legislation SB 67 that would restrict driver's license exams to be issued in English only. Currently the state offers the exam in 13 different languages but according to State Senator Jack Murphy, the chief proponent of the legislation, restricting the privilege to English-only drivers is a matter of safety. The senator believes that foreign language drivers pose a danger because they cannot read English language road signs. If Georgia offered driving tests only in English it would eliminate the perceived problem.

I say perceived because I could find no evidence that non-English speakers are a danger. Even in legislative hearings, as the bill was being debated, there was no testimony by road safety experts to prove that English-only drivers would improve safety. Not only was there no evidence the bill would make Georgia roads safer, the proposed bill offers driver's licenses for illiterate drivers. Fifteen percent of driver's licenses in Georgia are issued to people who cannot read at all. According to Senator Murphy, they qualify as safer drivers than the non-English literate immigrants. If the bill passes, U.S. citizens and legal residents who are not proficient in English will be prohibited from driving.

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