SEPTEMBER 24, 2007
New Yorkâ??s Democrat governor has proudly announced that illegal immigrants can obtain driversâ?? licenses in his state, a policy that clashes with a 2005 federal law requiring proof of legal status in the U.S. to get state identification cards or licenses.
New Yorkâ??s new rule, a landmark victory for the stateâ??s estimated half a million illegal aliens, eliminates a decades-old proof of citizenship requirement to get a license. New York joins eight other states (Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon and Washington) that do not require drivers to prove legal status in the country to obtain a license.
The exemptions for illegal immigrants contradict a 2005 federal law passed at the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to establish minimum standards for state-issued driverâ??s licenses and identification cards. Created to enhance the security and integrity of the state-issued cards, the Real ID Act specifically requires states to verify applicantsâ?? identity and lawful status in the United States.
New York officials claim that granting illegal immigrants a license to drive is necessary to protect public safety since hundreds of thousands of undocumented, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are on the stateâ??s roads contributing to accidents and often fleeing from them. They believe that putting those illegal aliens into the system will help enhance law enforcement efforts.
Governor Eliot Spitzer calls it a common sense change that deals practically with the reality that undocumented immigrants live among us. Allowing them the opportunity to obtain a driverâ??s license in a responsible and secure manner will certainly help increase public safety, according to the governor.
Spitzer predicts that roads will be safer because he chose to confront the situation rather than bury his head in the sand and pretend the problem doesnâ??t exist. The problem, according to Spitzer, is that too many drivers are unlicensed and uninsured simply because they do not have a Social Security number. Not that they are in the country illegally.
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