MARCH 10, 2011
The last two states to offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses rejected measures this week to reverse the practice, even though it violates a federal identification law enacted to protect national security after the 2001 terrorist attacks.Legislators in Washington State and New Mexico defeated bills that would have done away with their longtime policy of issuing driver’s licenses without requiring proof of residency. A handful of states once offered the perk, but most have rescinded it to comply with a national identification law known as the Real ID Act.Utah found a way to accommodate illegal aliens last year by creating a special class of driver’s license for those who will be ineligible to obtain the cards when the Real ID Act finally kicks in. The state devised a two-tier system that allows illegal immigrants to get a driving privilege card valid only in Utah while legal residents or citizens receive a “regular” driver’s license that’s accepted as identification at places such as airports.As if that move wasn’t outrageous enough, Washington State and New Mexico have taken it a step further by continuing their reckless policies. Washington’s bill, designed to stop identification fraud, was narrowly defeated in the Senate. The measure would have required driver’s license applicants to provide proof of residency and a Social Security number. The Democrat who sponsored the law says there are 300,000 more driver’s licenses in her sate than there are drivers, indicating widespread fraud in the system.In New Mexico, a bill to stop giving illegal immigrants the cards passed overwhelmingly in the House, but a few days later the Senate pretty much killed it by watering it down to the point that the governor called it a “sham.” The measure also would have revoked the license of any undocumented person who failed to present proper documentation upon renewing the card within two years of the legislation taking effect.New Mexico started giving illegal aliens driver’s licenses after an influential immigrant rights group (Somos Un Pueblo Unido or We are a United Town) pushed for it in 2002. A few years ago federal agents busted a major smuggling ring in which illegal immigrants from “special interest” countries exploited New Mexico’s lax law to obtain licenses. A Brazilian man and a Kazakhstan woman were eventually charged with running the illicit operation.
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