Many of us walk out of our homes to go to work, leave the kids with the babysitter, go grocery shopping, and other places because we have things to do and places to be. Yet, not everyone can walk calmly out of that door.The is one community across the U.S. that fears leaving their homes, because of the possibility of getting pulled over by a police officer or even worse, getting detained by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer. That community is the undocumented community.
This community needs to travel to work just like we do, drive to the store to provide for their families, just like we all do. So, what can we do to accommodate for their needs? The state of Indiana could allow undocumented people to obtain a drivers licence in order to increase income and accommodate diversity.
Liz Robbins, of the New York Times, writes in Driving While Undocumented, and Facing the Risks “according to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, more than 752,000 undocumented immigrants would be eligible for drivers’ licenses in New York State, and of that number, roughly 265,000 would apply. Taxes and fees could assist the annual economy in counties and the state by $57 million, the report showed.” A huge number of undocumented immigrants are in need of transportation to go to their jobs, to bring food to the table, to pay bills, to pay the needs of their children, and for many more things. Sometimes these families desire to visit other family members in the U.S. or just travel anywhere as a family, but they can not because they are afraid that they will not come back home. Yet, doing this would also benefit the state of New York with millions of dollars. Now imagine if every state in the U.S. would allow undocumented immigrants to have drivers’ licenses? We would be helping them, but also we would be helping ourselves.
As a DACA student at Goshen College, I am a part of the Hispanic/Latino community, and something that is essential for us is our family. We stand for each other, help each other, and understand each other. Recently, my family and I have been having transportation issues because our family van has been failing us after 12 years. My dad has been thinking about buying a new vehicle for the family, but he can not have an Indiana license plate if he does not have a driver’s license. That is where my brother and I come in and help because we are the only ones who can help. I know some Goshen College students who are also part of the Hispanic/Latino community who help their families by driving their mom to buy food a la mexicana or by attending to any emergency happened at their siblings school. We have needs, and giving a driver’s license to those in my community would help us become better people, giving us the opportunity to go out, become independent, have better connections with other people, and gain confidence. We perhaps will feel safe and secure, but I think it is not just about having a license. There is more to it.
It can be as simple as deciding to stop tolerating diversity and instead accommodating for it. As Goshen College community, something we can all start doing is accommodate to other groups of people’s needs. In this case, we can start to see that providing drivers’ licenses for undocumented people will help them and us as a whole. We can also provide weekly meetings to see how they are doing and see if their transitions here in the U.S. have been pleasant. We need to accommodate for diverse groups by asking ourselves how we can help them, what we can learn from them, and how we can we work together to find a common ground. As a campus, we have to care about these issues because there are students on campus who commute back and forth from home without carrying a driver’s license on them. They are a part of Goshen College. We are a part of it as well. It has to matter to all of us.
So how can you help us? Listen to our stories, listen to our needs, wants, goals, and dreams. Listen to where we come from and our different ways of living, eating, dressing up, speaking, acting, and representing because this is who we are. As a community, we desire to grow and become successful in every way, but we can’t do it by ourselves. We need you on board with us.
I leave you with a quote from César Chávez, Civil Rights Activists, who once said “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”