Michael  Steele

New York looks to play an important role in the upcoming presidential elections in more ways than one. Not only could we see an "all New York" presidential line-up (Rudy vs. Hillary) but Democrat Governor Elliott Spitzer has managed to focus the attention of the entire nation on New York by announcing his plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

Governor Spitzer obviously has no clear understanding of the far-reaching and crippling effects on our Nation’s security such a measure would have. By equating providing state-issued legal driver's licenses to the purchase of a MetroCard ("I don't think it is a privilege any more than buying a MetroCard is a privilege," Spitzer said on New York 1 News of his three-tiered license plan. "When we walk down into the subway system to buy a MetroCard, no one says, 'Prove you are a citizen'; no one says, 'Where did you grow up?'"), the Governor insults the intelligence of most Americans who fundamentally understand the difference. I wish the Governor did.

Unlike a MetroCard, a New York driver’s license provides a valid form of state-issued identification, which itself gives the holder a number of state and national benefits. For example, individuals with a valid driver’s license may use that license to apply for a job or to board a plane in any airport in this country. What Governor Spitzer has so irresponsibly proposed is a plan to provide this legal form of identification to persons who are in this country illegally; and as such, his plan would further weaken the social and security systems of our states and nation.

But there is more. One other not so insignificant impact of such a measure is that it would allow illegal immigrants to use this license to register to vote. New York Board of Elections Spokesman Lee Daghlian admits, “It would be [tough to catch] if someone wanted to …. get a number of people registered [to vote] who aren’t citizens and went ahead and got them driver’s licenses”. Once again, Governor Spitzer’s ill-conceived plan would compromise the integrity of our electoral system and make more vulnerable an electoral process that a growing number of Americans are already suspicious of.

Like so many politicians on both sides of the aisle, Governor Spitzer is not listening to New Yorkers. While 70% of the legal citizens of New York oppose this plan, Governor Spitzer stands firm in his resolve to enact this irresponsible and dangerous measure.

Let's be clear: the safety and security of Americans should not be subject to the whims of a "PC" mindset or feel good legislation. Americans are expecting thoughtful and responsible leadership that will not only clearly define the threats we face, but understand what they are in the first place.

Governor Spitzer's plan is not a cause for celebration by the left or by the right; it is just plain bad public policy. When grappling with the important issues, Americans want elected leadership to put aside partisan politics and just make the right decision. The non-partisan public outcry that has accompanied attempts by politicians to grant some form of amnesty to illegal immigrants supports this fact. The Spitzer plan is no different because for many of us, citizenship is a terrible thing to waste.


Michael Steele

Michael Steele is a former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.
 
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