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New York State County Clerks Challenge Illegal Licensing Plan

Cross posted at Say Anything: Reader Blogs.

While state Republicans are wailing and flailing that Governor Spitzer's plan to give illegal aliens driver's licenses will let terrorists into the country New York state county clerks are poised to scuttle the plan by simply doing their jobs and following the law.
Illegals applying for licenses risk being arrested: Erie, Niagara county clerks develop plan to counter Spitzer’s directive
Illegal immigrants who try to apply for driver’s licenses in Erie and Niagara counties will be subject to arrest — and deportation — under a plan being developed by the two county clerks and law enforcement officials.

The move is the latest — and potentially most serious — challenge to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer’s new policy to permit illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses if they possess a valid foreign passport and other identification.

“I’m being asked to look aside to something that’s illegal, and I’m not going to do that,” Niagara County Clerk Wayne Jagow said Wednesday.


Twenty county clerks across New York, including in Chautauqua, Allegany and Genesee counties, say they will not implement the policy. Most county clerk offices run Department of Motor Vehicles offices for the state.

But Hochul and Jagow, a Republican, say they will carry out the governor’s policy because they are agents of the state government and believe they have no choice. In response, though, both said they also take an oath to the U.S. Constitution, and so, in the words of Jagow, can’t “turn a blind eye” when somebody in the country illegally comes into their office for a driver’s license.

Erie County Clerk Kathleen Hochul, a Democrat, and President of the State County Clerks Association, Kathleen Marchione explain that the county clerks are either unwilling to break existing laws in the process of complying with the Governor's plan or unwilling to comply with the Governor's plan out right. Driver's licenses are a privilege reserved for law abiding citizens and resident aliens. The whole law abiding bit excludes illegal aliens.

One argument for the Governor's plan is that it would help lower insurance costs. Hochul points out that the biggest factor in higher insurance premiums is teenage drivers on the road not unlicensed illegal aliens. She also mentions that insurance companies have given no indication that they would lower premiums if their costs did good down.

Some are even arguing that the Governor's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens could bankrupt the state:
Driver's license plan could bankrupt New York
Gov. Eliot Spitzer's recently dictated policy to allow illegal immigrants to obtain New York driver's licenses will eventually bankrupt the state.

The governor should immediately administer lie detector tests to determine how many of his advisers are Republicans disguised as Democrats. This idea of granting legal status to someone who has broken the law is the antithesis of what the governor once represented, and it will provide the state Republican Party with plenty of mud to sling for years.


If New York determines it is the "right thing to do" to issue illegal immigrants state driver's licenses, then the illegal immigrants will become residents of the state. The state will become a magnet for anyone entering the country illegally hoping to obtain some proof of legitimacy. The illegal immigrants will become bona-fide residents of New York. Residents of New York have a right to know the answers to the following questions. In a democracy, they should be afforded the right to determine the fate of this policy via a vote.

* Can the state give an illegal immigrant approval to live and work within the state and have them pay federal and state income taxes then deny them their "illegal" rights to workmen's compensation, Medicaid and unemployment insurance?

* How does the state attract new business when we have one of the most unfriendly business climates in the country and with this "open door policy" it is about to get worse?

* If the policy is approved, how much additional revenue will the state be providing for infrastructure repair, security and housing?

The state is already paying $1.5 million for equipment that doesn't work. Giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens is the first step on a path that leads nowhere good. I love this particular understatement of the situation:
Michael Gilhooly, a spokesman for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Buffalo, said that "in general, ICE's position is that it's not a good idea to issue legitimate government documents to people illegally in the United States."
Ya think?

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