Since Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) expressed support for granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, backlash against lax immigration policies has intensified in the polls and in Republican presidential campaign politics.
In the last televised Democratic presidential debate, Clinton said home state Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to permit illegal aliens to apply for driver’s licenses “makes a lot of sense.” The next day her aides clarified: “Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
A Siena New York poll released Tuesday found New York voters oppose giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens by a margin of 70 to 25 percent. Half of those polled said giving licenses to illegal aliens would increase threats to national security. Two-thirds said doing so would not make roads safer or decrease the insurance costs.
Spitzer’s job approval ratings are also at an all-time low of 41-46 percent and almost half of New York voters say they would vote for “someone else” in 2010.
While pro-amnesty Democrats ponder what this could mean for their polling, some Republicans are leveraging the increased media attention on immigration to prop up their own campaigns.
The same day the Siena poll was released, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney likened his top primary opponent’s immigration position to Clinton’s. The release said both Clinton and former New York City Republican mayor Rudy Giuliani had a “Sanctuary State of Mind. This is a slam for their support of “sanctuary city” policies in New York that allow illegal aliens access to social services and prohibits local law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status without criminal cause.
Immigration hawk Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), also campaigning for the GOP nomination, unleashed a 30-second television advertisement on Tuesday that shows a fictional domestic terrorist attack undertaken by illegal aliens who plant a bomb at a mall. In the spot, the narrator says: "There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs. Terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil. Jihadists, who froth with hate, here to do what they have in London, Spain, and Russia."