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November 5, 07

NEWS / GOVERNMENT: Local officials continue to speak out against license plan

Linked from: http://www.journal-register.com/local/local_story_308234952.html

Written By: Nicole Coleman

BATAVIA — New York Senator Mary Lou Rath, R-Williamsville, joined Assemblymen Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, and Daniel Burling, R-Warsaw, at a press conference in Batavia Friday morning to oppose Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s contested driver’s license plan.

Hawley said he has acquired 3,500 petition signatures against Spitzer’s “risky, reckless, unsecure” plan from Democrats and Republicans ,alike. Spitzer’s plan provides illegal aliens with a privileged driver’s license previously granted to law-abiding citizens, he said, adding that Spitzer’s newest three-tiered license plan introduced last week is a “further inconvenience” for New Yorkers.

Rath fears the plan will jeopardize the nation’s security. Burling called Spitzer a “dictator” who should focus on what he was elected to do. The “illegal” plan is an “attempt to list illegal aliens as voters,” he said.

“That driver’s license is proof you are a United States citizen,” Burling said. “(Illegal immigrants) are costing us money on many services they enjoy and don’t pay taxes on.”

The licenses issued do not indicate the immigrant’s status, be it legal or illegal, said Genesee County Clerk Don Read. He said 7,000 were issued to individuals without a Social Security number. Orleans County Clerk Karen Lake-Maynard said the plan is a mockery of her oath of office.

Orleans County Legislators Donald Allport, Kenneth Rush, David Callard, Jack Beedon and Henry Smith Jr. were in attendance, along with District Attorney Joseph Cardone. The Legislature unanimously opposed Spitzer’s plan at its Oct. 10 meeting, permitting Maynard to refuse to process driver’s license applications without a Social Security number or proof of ineligibility.

Spitzer’s three-tiered plan, supported by the Department of Homeland Security, creates an “Enhanced Driver’s License” that would permit Western New Yorkers to cross the Canadian border without a passport. Additional separate licenses would be issued in 2008 as well — a federally approved license to fly on planes and a state approved license for driving and identification. Illegal immigrants would be able to obtain only the state license.

Under the plan, licenses still will be issued to undocumented immigrants, but under compliance with the modified REAL ID regulations. The purpose is to provide residents who cannot afford a $100 passport with additional options, while keeping track of all immigrants, many of whom now drive without a license. Spitzer has said the licenses are more secure and that new anti-fraud scanners will be able to detect fraudulent documents and verify foreign passports.

There were an estimated 9 million illegal immigrants at the time of the 2000 census, according to the Center for Immigration studies.

“How is this making the people of the state of New York safer?” Cardone said at the conference. “It doesn’t.”

Hawley joined a lawsuit filed by the Republican-led Assembly in Albany on Thursday to stop the governor’s driver’s license plan.

Contact reporter Nicole Colemanat 798-1400, ext. 2227.

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