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New York Senate Passes Bill That Would Prohibit Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens

"Governor Spitzer's plan to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens has incensed New Yorkers in every part of the state and every political party because they see the threat it would pose to public safety and security."

by / October 23, 2007
rThe New York State Senate yesterday passed legislation that would stop Governor Spitzer's plan to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens by requiring a Social Security number or proof of authorized presence in the United States to obtain a New York State drivers license or non-driver identification card.

On the same day, William J. Bratton, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and former commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) spoke in favor of licensing illegal immigrants, saying it will improve law enforcement's ability to fight crime and terrorism while also improving road safety.

"As former commissioner of the New York City Police Department and now chief of the Los Angeles Police Department," said Bratton in a release, "I support efforts that have the potential to solve crimes and improve traffic safety. That's why I backed legislation in California that would give undocumented immigrants the ability to get a driver's license once they have provided proof of their identification. It is my belief that by doing that you would reduce the number of hit and runs and increase the number of insured motorists on the road. We would also now have undocumented immigrants' identifying information on record such as photographs and addresses which could prove helpful in the fight against crime and terrorism."

Commenting on Bratton's statement, Governor Spitzer said: "Bratton's experience leading the police forces of three of the country's major cities means he understands the challenge of having millions of undocumented immigrants in the shadows and outside of law enforcement databases. By bringing people out of the shadows and into the system, and by tying this effort to the strictest anti-fraud security measures in the nation, we will vastly enhance the safety and security of all New Yorkers."

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno -- who led Senate Republicans in opposition to Governor Spitzer's measure -- said yesterday in a release: "I have never seen such strong and united opposition to a proposal by the governor. Governor Spitzer's plan to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens has incensed New Yorkers in every part of the state and every political party because they see the threat it would pose to public safety and security. The governor insists on moving forward with this plan, but today the Senate passed legislation to stop it. I urge the Assembly to pass this bill to send a clear message to the governor that he should drop this plan."

The legislation (S.6484) is sponsored by Senator Frank Padavan and is similar to Padavan's bill (S.74) that he introduced earlier in the 2006-2007 legislative session and has sponsored for over five years. The legislation requires applicants for a drivers license or non-driver identification card to submit a Social Security number. When a Social Security number cannot be provided, the applicant must demonstrate they are ineligible to get a number and provide satisfactory proof that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
Wayne Hanson

Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.