AL-GOV Candidate: English-Only Driver’s License Tests Please! (VIDEO)

April 28, 2010 7:59 a.m.

The campaign of gubernatorial candidate Tim James (R-AL) says that his ad proposing English-only driver’s licenses tests has been a big hit — and that it represents a simple solution to the illegal immigration problem that has become a huge issue in the state.

“Why do our politicians make us give driver’s license exams in 12 languages?” James asks in the ad. “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it. We’re only giving that test in English if I’m governor.”

“There was no one catalyst, other than since we started this campaign about two years ago, and at least once a day someone asks us or calls our headquarters about what are we gonna do about illegal aliens in Alabama,” said campaign spokesman Brett Hall, when asked by TPMDC what spurred the campaign to create the ad. “And our ad doesn’t specifically address illegal aliens or talk about that. But we did see that the state of Alabama, in offering 12 foreign languages in addition to English for the driver’s test, was absurd. But we thought we would home in on that part of it, and it seems to have hit a raw nerve here in the state.”If the issue is really illegal immigration, we asked, why not make an ad focusing on that as a specific issue? “Because we have a common sense solution focused campaign,” said Hall. “We wanted to look at one common sense solution that would save the taxpayers at least some money, but would be something that would be simple, make sense, and could make a difference for the people of Alabama.”

Hall explained that if people had to learn English in order to get a driver’s license in Alabama, illegal immigrants would be less likely to come to the state: “It would make it inconvenient for them to get an Alabama driver’s license, that’s for sure.” In addition, Hall said that there was a legitimate public safety issue in play, when it comes to people who are unable to read English-language road signs or effectively communicate if they get in an accident.

One question we also asked was whether James would support an anti-illegal immigration law similar to the one passed in Arizona. Hall took a wait-and-see approach: “Yes, but we’d need to take a look at this piece of legislation. It was carefully crafted, it has some really good points about it. But instead of embracing it right off the bat, you’ve got to look at it and see how it pans out, how well it’s enforced, and how enforceable it is, the kind of training law-enforcement officers will go through to make sure they don’t violate a person’s civil rights. It’s well worth taking a look at, and hopefully modeling for legislation in the future.”

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