The Baltimore Sun

Bad drivers come in all nationalities

The sudden deaths of two Baltimore highway workers is a grave tragedy that vividly highlights the need for vigilance about road safety ("Guatemalan arrested in crash," Aug. 14).

Sadly, The Sun's reporting distorted the situation with a veneer of xenophobia that suggested that the immigration status of the driver was somehow the real culprit.

However, as the article later points out, last year more than a dozen people were killed in road work accidents, and two were killed in June alone.

And the fact is that a person's immigration status has absolutely nothing to do with his or her ability to drive safely; good and bad drivers come in all shapes, colors and nationalities.

That's precisely why Maryland's licensing laws rightly focus on driving ability and ignore immigration status.

Indeed, requiring people to have proof of immigration status to obtain a license would actually make us less safe, not more.

As multiple studies have demonstrated, requiring proof of immigration status to get a driver's license forces people without documentation to drive illegally, drive without insurance and to take other steps to evade law enforcement.

Marylanders are therefore safer when drivers, regardless of immigration status, learn the rules of the road and become licensed and insured.

Understanding this fact, business leaders, national security experts and even some police officials all protested a bill proposed in the last legislative session which would have required proof of immigration status to obtain a Maryland driver's license.

Let's not confuse federal immigration law enforcement with local road safety

Sally Dworak-Fisher


The writer is an attorney for the Public Justice Center.

Licensing boosts national security

How can The Sun justify the description of the accident recounted in the article "Guatemalan arrested in crash" (Aug. 15) as "the latest in a series of fatal traffic accidents involving illegal immigrants"?

This characterization of the accident implies, without any evidence, that the immigration status of the driver in this incident was somehow a cause of the crash.

But it would have been just as reasonable to call this accident, "the latest in a series of crashes involving 31-year-olds."

The Sun also erred in suggesting that supporters of making driver's licenses available to immigrants slight concerns about border security.

To the contrary, national security is strengthened when law enforcement has basic information about all residents, which makes it easier to isolate those few people who seek to endanger the rest of us.

Allan Massie


'Terrorist' label is a prelude to war

The question raised by the title of the article "Can military be terrorists?" (Aug. 15) is beside the point.

The term "terrorist," as it is used by the president and the State Department, has no objective, universal meaning. Rather, it is applied selectively as a precondition for war.

It is one of many terms with similar functions that make up the verbal arsenal of our national security state - terms such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state."

Designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization will be much more than semantic posturing.

It will be one of many incremental steps toward acts of war against Iran.

John Bailey


It's time to change the old tune on slots

Gov. Martin O'Malley plays in a band. So he must know songs other than "Let's Raise Revenue for Maryland and Racing by Putting Slots at Tracks" ("Report makes case for Md. slots," Aug. 15).

This song has verses that are hard to sing, including:

"Let's help schoolchildren by teaching them that gambling rather than work is the way to approach life."

"If an industry can't stand on its own, we should give it crutches bought by the public."

"Copying other states is a fun way to provide leadership."

Will someone please ask Mr. O'Malley, who is a pleasant and progressive man in other ways, to find some other music?

Ted Shepherd


Reporting projects can work together

As a teacher in the Baltimore County schools, I read with interest The Sun's article ("System charts pupil progress," Aug. 11) and editorial about the Articulated Instruction Module for reporting students' progress to parents ("Help or high-tech hindrance?" editorial, Aug. 14).

We already have a vehicle for reporting student progress - and that is the report card.

Unfortunately, especially in elementary schools, the report card is outdated and not representative of the skills addressed by the state curriculum.

For years, many of us in the county school system have been advocating the development of a report card that is better aligned with what we actually teach.

Finally, the system has formed a committee charged with developing a new report card.

I believe that if the report card committee and the author of the articulation model worked together, we would have a superior document to report student growth.

Both of these initiatives have the same goal of improving parental notification of student progress. However, at this time, they seem to be going in two different directions.

But with leadership from the county school superintendent, perhaps the two initiatives could be meshed.

Barbara Tyler


Work of physics lab protects the nation

The writer of the letter "Misspent millions fund weapons lab" (Aug. 10) decries the funding going to the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, which he refers to as a "weapons lab."

I have worked at the lab for more than 35 years, and I am extremely proud of the work we do there.

I will not speak about the biomedical systems developed at the facility or about such research missions as the two APL-developed spacecrafts which are now on their way to Pluto and Mercury.

Instead, I will address the military systems many of us work on. And I know, as a matter of fact, that the military work we have done has saved many innocent lives and that the lab is a national resource that helps ensure my children can be safe.

It is also because of facilities such as the APL throughout our country that people like the letter-writer are free to criticize the way our government spends its money.

Andrew Goldfinger


Coffee Co.'s sites slight its namesake

In an article Thursday, we learned that a Timonium-based "Beverage supplier brews expansion" (Aug. 16) and plans to open outlets in Annapolis, Columbia, Rockville, Frederick, Washington, Northern Virginia and Richmond, Va.

The name of this business? The Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co.?

So c'mon, hon, can't you even put one store inside our Beltway?

Dave Reich

Perry Hall

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