Immigration Evolution: Common sense from an unlikely source

November 8, 2013

Ed is a close friend of mine.
He’s 33.
He’s married with two daughters, ages 7 and 4.

He works two jobs.
He’s active in his church.
He has zero credit card debt.
He’s a die-hard Chicago Bears fan.
He drives a Ford Windstar minivan.
His primary goal is to make the lives of his girls better than his own.
In many ways, he’s an All-American dad.
Except not.
He’s Edgar.
He’s undocumented.
15 years after arriving in the U.S., he’s not much closer to being a citizen, despite two American children living under his roof.
Edgar’s life was turned upside down recently.
He received a traffic violation after being involved in a minor fender bender.
Not much reason for you or I to lose any sleep, but for Edgar…
When I ask him if he has auto insurance, he looks at me with a puzzled look.
“Sí. Claro. Es la ley en Illinois.”
Yes. Of course. It’s the law in Illinois. 
He asks me what I think it’s like to drive around Chicago for 15 years without a driver’s license.
Hmmm, hadn’t thought about that much. 
What happens when an inmigrante indocumentado has to go to court for a traffic violation in Illinois?
Well… you can guess the worst-case scenario.
Illinois is not best known for its political judgement.
We made electoral fraud a punchline.
(“Vote early, vote often.”)
We overwhelming re-elected Blago despite his on-going FBI investigation.
(Well-founded, as it turned out.)
We elected a Chicago Mayor who didn’t live in Chicago.
But hey – every place has its peccadillos. 
Illinois recently got one thing right – some surprising common sensery coming from the Land of Lincoln: it passed the TVDL bill into law.
What’s a TVDL?
Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License.
A driver’s license for people like Edgar.
It’s driver’s license-ish.
It’s good for the state. 
More documentation on the undocumented will ultimately be valuable in a Big Data era. There will also be less fake ID’s floating around, at least among the Hispanic crowd. High school students will always be gifted in this arena.
t’s good for Edgar. 
He’s not much closer to citizenship, but it’s a form of reassurance. And he doesn’t have to white-knuckle it every time he drops his daughters off at school.
It’s good for you.
You’re a proponent of enlightened self-interest, right? If you were involved in an accident, would you want the other driver to have no driver’s license or some driver’s license?
Some state-produced identification would be nice.
So while you may dislike the immigration evolution in this country, good people like Edgar are driving by you each and every day. If you happen to meet by accident – literally – you’ll both be glad the state stopped pretending individuals like Edgar didn’t exist.
In other news, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie won a landslide re-election on Tuesday. He carried 51% of the Hispanic vote. Four years earlier in the governor’s race, Christie carried 32% of the Hispanic vote. Chris Christie is also a proponent of enlightened self-interest.
El Presidente

Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle, a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México, during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored two books: Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at or at 630.234.7321.