There is a growing awareness undocumented immigrants are experiencing a lot of apprehension about the stress which they face daily due to Federal or state regulations. For example, the necessity of driving without a license to get to work. What are the consequences of licensed drivers assisting them in order to reduce their anxiety and stress? How can local persons offer a sign of hope and encouragement? What is involved in providing sanctuary? Or of introducing or passing corrective legislation?
Immigration is a hotly contested issue, and these are actually complex and difficult questions to answer. From a legal standpoint, frankly, not very many Kansas attorneys deal with immigration law. With that in mind, a few comments are warranted.
You are correct in identifying the risk of undocumented immigrants driving without licenses. A Kansas statute forbids the issuance of a license to a person “whose presence in the United States is in violation of federal immigration laws.” If caught, they can be arrested and eventually deported.
Many choose to risk the consequences of driving without a license out of necessity to maintain their jobs. This, however, can be problematic if a wreck occurs and there is no insurance to compensate for injuries. Recognizing the various societal concerns, states have adopted varying degrees of legislation to address the issue.
With that said, your legal question really hinges on whether it is problematic to give an undocumented immigrant a ride. Notorious on this subject is the recent legislation passed in Arizona.
Legal experts and commentators have identified the broad implications of this law for citizens interacting with undocumented immigrants. A well-respected University of Arizona law professor recently stated it is unsafe under this law to give an undocumented immigrant a ride or any type of sanctuary because there is no telling how the law will be applied.
The law is, however, now under legal attack in federal court.
Although Kansas has not yet adopted a law as stringent as Arizona’s law, many feel Kansas reform is inevitable—especially in light of the fact the mastermind of the Arizona legislation, Kris Kobach, has now been elected Kansas Secretary of State.
The web of federal regulations in this area is complex and outside the scope of this article.
Thus, although it is difficult for me to give a more thorough answer to your question, it is crucial those wishing to offer services to undocumented immigrants be wary of legislative efforts to target such activity. An immigration attorney could likely help with the endeavor of wading through laws regarding the legality of aiding undocumented immigrants.
Of course if you wish to change or alter policy in this area, you are certainly correct in your democratic power to lobby politicians for change. For a variety of reasons, resolution will most likely come from a federal level.