The Republican Party of Kentucky has sent out mailers suggesting that granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants could lead to terrorist attacks like the ones carried out on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.
“He wasn’t a citizen, but he had a legal license,” the ad warns above a large picture of 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta’s Florida driver’s license.
The mailer, which is reportedly being distributed in western Kentucky, attacks Jim Gooch, a Democratic state representative, for sponsoring a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get a modified driver’s license (as twelve states have already done).
Banning licenses for undocumented immigrants would not have stopped the 9/11 hijackers from getting ID, as they were posing as legal residents who had already been cleared by immigration officials.
Many campaigns have used similar fearmongering tactics, connecting immigrants with terrorists ahead of Tuesday’s election. Senate candidates including Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Scott Brown (R-NH) have warned recently that ISIS terrorists are infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border. However, the actual threat posed by ISIS to the U.S. is minimal compared to the public perception. The Department of Homeland Security even had to release a statement shutting down the growing conspiracy theory that Islamic terrorists are plotting to invade the border.
Meanwhile, granting driver’s licenses to immigrants could actually improve public safety. Unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to cause fatal car crashes, and many undocumented immigrants continue to drive in order to live their daily lives. Licensing would require drivers to take written and driving tests, and would help bring many immigrants out of the shadows by giving them some legitimate documentation.