NYS expands immigrant access to driver’s licenses

On Sept. 21, New York governor Eliot Spitzer announced new rules under which the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue driver’s licenses without regard to federal immigration status. The new rules reverse a policy change adopted four years ago under governor George Pataki that made it virtually impossible for immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses if they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the DMV will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring federal immigration documents. The policy does not require legislative approval and will be phased in starting in December. It will be tied to new anti-fraud measures including the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license. The State Department of Insurance estimates that the new rules will save New York drivers $120 million each year by reducing premium costs associated with uninsured motorists by 34%.

Implementation of the new policy is to start at the end of 2007 with a relicensing process for some 152,000 residents who have had New York state licenses but couldn’t renew them under the Pataki rules, said motor vehicles commissioner David J. Swarts. A second phase, to begin in April, will allow people to seek first-time licenses. This phase will involve more rigorous screening, Swarts said, including a four- to six-week process of authenticating foreign passports and other foreign identity documents. (New York Times, Sept. 22)

From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 30

See our last post on the immigrants rights struggle.

  1. Backlash to Spitzer license plan
    Spitzer’s courageous move is sparking the predictable xenophobic backlash—and predictably leading the charge is Rep. Peter King (R-LI), the ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, who told the New York Post Sept. 22: “I strongly disagree with giving state-authorized IDs to illegal immigrants. More importantly, this proposal raises serious homeland-security concerns.”

    This is, of course, the same enlightened individual who recently said there are “too many mosques” in the United States—a comment not disavowed by Rudolph Giuliani, for whom he serves as a campaign adviser. (AP, Sept. 20)

    Here’s the original Sept. 19 post on Politico.com that started the controversy:

    New York Rep. Peter King, a prominent House Republican, said there are “too many mosques in this country” in a recent interview with Politico.

    “There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam,” King said. “We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them.”

    King is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. And as an outspoken advocate of strong anti-terror measures, he has been unafraid to ruffle some feathers in his drive to protect the homeland.

    When asked to clarify his statement, King did not revise his answer, saying “I think there has been a lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community.” The interview was for a profile of the committee, as part of Politico’s Committee Insider Series.

    Earlier, King had said in an interview with radio and television host Sean Hannity that 85 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by “extremist leadership,” a comment that prompted strong condemnations from many religious organizations and from the Democratic National Committee.

    UPDATE: On Wednesday, the congressman said: “The quote was taken entirely out of context by Politico. My position in this interview, as it has been for many years, is that too many mosques in this country do not cooperate with law enforcement. Unfortunately, Politico was incapable of making this distinction.”

    UPDATE 2: After Congressman King said his comment was taken out of context, Politico posted a fuller video so readers can decide.

    OK, we did, and we say the quote reveals king as an unabashed freedom-hater.

    See our last post on Islamophobia.

  2. Governor Eliot Spitzer is right.
    Those bandit and scoundrel republicans are dividing our society with scare tactics. They are trying to make our country a hatemonger country. We welcome immigrants and their contribution to our society. The Americans who claim not to have jobs and complaining are the lazy scum of our society; we are hard working proud Americans who are not afraid to help the poor and make our society a welcoming society. Governor Eliot Spitzer is a real American whom our forefathers should be proud of. I pray to God he prevails, in which he already did. For those of you, hateful dirt(s), go join the KKK, live in a trailer somewhere in the South in remote swaps, marry your closest, and do yourself a favor; don’t pollute our welcoming state and our country with your hate speeches. After all is it not a republican who was preying on young boy interns, and the other who took his family value straight to the rest room looking for perverts at least that was told. We are God fearing good and clean Americans, not thieves and perverts. Spitzer is right, let the poor dream as well.

    Thank you, may God bless Spitzer and our country; may God give your hateful heart the scent of worship and care. And when I say worship is not worshipping the hateful rep., the overweight and ugly Congressman James Sensenbrenner, whose cholesterol level still out scores his ego and hatred. Why don’t he focus on his health and eating habits rather tan scaring Americans with his exaggerated fear tactics and back room politics and poisons bills, he might as well go work for groups like the K.K.K. We are a welcoming nation; we feed the poor; we pray to God; we love and respect our family, neighbors and God’s creatures. Why don’t we listen to star citizens such as the priests who are telling us to be kind, why do we follow a no good liar republican politician? It simply beats logic away.

  3. Governor or Pope it’s still breaking the law!
    We have criminals in this country boldly going where no criminals have gone before. Right out there in front of the Main Stream Media.

    It is long over due that we report these acts of aiding and abetting. It could just be the trigger that the police need to act.

    Many police departments, sheriffs departments, prosecuting attorneys and other law enforcement agency’s can now be contacted online.

    Many in law enforcement feel the same as we do about this illegal invasion.

    Federal Immigration and Nationality Act
    Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii)

    “Any person who . . . encourages or induces an alien to . . . reside . . . knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such . . . residence is . . . in violation of law, shall be punished as provided . . . for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs . . . fined under title 18 . . . imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”
    Section 274 felonies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, INA 274A(a)(1)(A):
    A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he:
    * assists an alien s/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or
    * encourages that alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her to an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way, or
    * knowingly assists illegal aliens due to personal convictions.

    1. I’ll never understand you people
      Why don’t you guys ever get so worked up over shit like this? The government is violating international human rights standards every day, but that’s OK with you. No, the big problem is that—shudder!—some hard-working immigrants trying to make a better life for their families might get driver’s licenses! Hey, where were your grandparents born, BTW?

      Oh, and what’s with spelling “Main Stream Media” in the title case? Is there some incorporated entity out there called the “Main Stream Media”? Or are you just an Incendiary Paranoid Yahoo?

      1. JG
        ‘Incendiary Paranoid Yahoo’ might be a good band name.

        Note the reference to ‘The Pope’. It seems the nativists are going old school. The harsh, for the know-nothings, reality is business in west admits that they need the cheap stoop labor to function. Would Original Poster be happy with his daughter out in the hedges for $8 an hour if that would stop the ‘invasion’ of the little brown ones? FEAR THE DARKIES!! CALL THE COPS!! THEY HAVE GUNS!!

        The solution isn’t build a fence, the solution is fix Mexico.

        1. Xenophobe idiots in the news …again
          Repealing NAFTA would be a good start. Oh I forgot, we’re not supposed to talk about that.

          Here’s some gems from the NY Times‘ latest on the xenophobe reaction front, Oct. 4:

          “Osama bin Laden is somewhere in a cave with his den of thieves and terrorists, and he’s probably sabering the cork on some Champagne right now, saying ‘Hey, that governor’s really assisting us,'” James N. Tedisco, the minority leader of the State Assembly, said at an appearance last week.

          Idiot! Do you really think Osama drinks booze, even if he could get champagne in his cave in Afghanistan? But wait, it gets better…

          Mr. Spitzer has argued that preventing illegal immigrants from getting licenses has only forced them to drive without insurance and contributed to more hit-and-run accidents and higher insurance rates for all New Yorkers.

          In other words, denying licenses is making the roads more dangerous. And they are already plenty dangerous enough, thank you. Way to go, “national security” nimrods! See, this is the proof of the pudding. It isn’t about “security” at all. It’s about plain ol’ fashioned mean-spiritedness.

          Spitzer says his opponents are “dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”

          Well, the courts may ultimately decide if he is right legally. But seems to us he’s got the rest of those categories in his corner, folks.