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No License to Drive This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I am a junior on the verge of turning 17. Every day, new doors open and I’m exposed to experiences that revolutionize my outlook on life. I revel in the new level of independence I have been granted. Yes, life is great, but one thing is bothering me. See, I still get a ride every day to school. As I saunter through our parking lot, I do not fail to notice that most of my friends enjoy driving themselves to school.

Unfortunately, this serves as a harsh reminder that I do not have this privilege. Why? Simple - I am not a legal resident of the United States and therefore cannot get a driver’s license. Arizona, and many other states, require residency to obtain this precious little card. And so, I feel a great injustice has been committed.

I am sure that almost everyone would agree that driving is a necessity. From little things like going to the store or out with friends to the more important ones like getting to work and visiting family, driving is not a luxury. Alternatives are tricky; there may be some public transportation, but in many cases, it is unpredictable. Though I may sound like a petulant five-year-old, the reality is that thousands of people around the country are driving under the same circumstances I am, usually because they have been left no other choice.

It is more than evident that allowing everyone the right to get a driver’s license, no matter what his or her citizenship, would be beneficial to all. I fully understand and agree that because of events like 9/11 this country must be protected, but it would be more reasonable to research applicants more carefully than to deny outright every non-citizen (including hard-working immigrants whose sweat and labor help this country be what it is) the right to legally drive. Every immigrant, myself included, came to this country seeking a better life. Is this not what America promises? Then why punish us for trying to work hard and establish ourselves as citizens of this great country?

In addition, there are safety issues why everyone should be allowed to get a driver’s license. I can guarantee you that no matter what punishments are given, people will continue to drive without a license. It is inevitable; imagine for a moment doing everything you do without a car. Few would say it is possible. Because a license is required to insure your car, thousands of people are driving uninsured. If they were to get in accidents, neither they nor the other party would receive any monetary help.

These are good, solid reasons why these restrictive laws that prohibit non-citizens from getting a driver’s license should be eliminated. Thousands of hard-working, honest people are being unjustly punished, and teens like me, who had no say when they were brought to this country as children, are being deprived of experiencing what so many friends and schoolmates take for granted: driving.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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