SALT LAKE CITY — Illegal immigrants in Utah might have to find alternate means of transportation next year.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would do away with the state's driving privilege card by Dec. 31, 2011. The law would repeal the use of tax identification or ITIN numbers to obtain the card and prohibit the state driver license division from issuing it. SB138 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Bill sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, said the state shouldn't be issuing a card based on unverifiable documents that can be used as government identification.
"There's the danger that this can be creating false identities for people and basically that has the state's blessing," he told the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee.
"Of course, we're going to become a magnet for illegal aliens to come and get that card where they can live and move freely in such a welcomed manner."
Nearly 42,000 undocumented immigrants and about 700 noncitizen legal residents possess the card, according to the driver license division. The Legislature created the option six years ago primarily to provide a way for noncitizens to obtain auto insurance.
"The representation that this is giving state identification is patently misguided," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who's championed the driving privilege card in 2005. It cannot be used as ID for things such as buying alcohol or voting.
Furthermore, he said the number of people obtaining the annually renewable card has remained consistent the past three years, he said.
"That does not suggest that this is a magnet," he said. "Those residing and staying in Utah are getting the card."9 comments on this story
Bramble said the card is working as intended.
A 2008 legislative audit showed illegal immigrants in Utah hold insurance at nearly the same rate as citizen drivers — 76 percent for those with driving privilege cards and 82 percent for those with regular licenses.
According to legislative fiscal analysts, the state transportation fund would be out nearly $1 million a year if the measure passes.