Maybe This Will Finally Wither Away

The Times Union reports that reaction to Governor Spitzer’s driver’s license initiative is getting mixed reviews (an improvement over previously reported widespread pans from the public) and that National Security hero Richard Clarke has written in support of the plan:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to let illegal immigrants get drivers licenses got a thumbs down from New Yorker’s in the latest poll on the issue, but kudos from a former Bush administration homeland security expert.

A Zogby poll found opposition to the plan moved up from 58 to 65 percent over the past month. There is an ideological divide here, with 47 percent of Democrats opposing it compared with 92 percent of Republicans. And while half of the Republicans polled said it was more important than any other issue, only 18 percent of Democrats thought it was that big a deal.

Release here; methodology here.

Spitzer, meanwhile, was touting support for the plan from Richard Clarke, Bush’s former White House National Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism. The governor also defended the proposal in a speech today at NYU’s Center for Law and Security.

In a statement released by Spitzer’s office, Clarke said the ideal solution is a national standard, but

“In the interim, states should act to register immigrants, legal and illegal, who use our roadways as New York is doing. From a law enforcement and security perspective, it is far preferable for the state to know who is living in it and driving on its roads, and to have their photograph and their address on file than to have large numbers of people living in our cities whose identity is totally unknown to the government. “

Here’s a copy of Clarke’s statement, and a link to the speech.

Meanwhile, it’s politics as usual in the legislature:

Four bills dealing with illegal immigrants seeking driver’s licenses will be ready for action next week when the Legislature returns for a brief session.

The measures are expected to be no more than symbolic, underscoring how some lawmakers feel about Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s license plan…

The bills include one recently submitted by Sen. Frank Padavan, R-Bellrose. He seeks a law to require applicants for state ID documents to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the United States.

“The Department of Motor Vehicles has reported an increase in the number of cases of illegal aliens fraudulently obtaining and using state driver’s licenses,” Padavan said. “Particularly since September 11, 2001, the state has a compelling interest in preventing illegal aliens from securing driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards.”

Assemblywoman Ginny Fields, D-Sayville, has an identical bill in the Assembly. It calls for driver’s license applicants to provide proof if they are ineligible for a Social Security number.

Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, calls for the state to require a Social Security number or proof of authorized presence in the United States to obtain a driver’s license to help “guarantee the safety and security of all New Yorkers.”

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, would require that photos, proof of age, fitness, identity and Social Security numbers or proof of ineligibility for a Social Security card be mandatory and not at the DMV commissioner’s discretion.

All of this gives them something to tell the folks in their districts, but it is beginning to bore the socks off of me.

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