Rich Lowry

The latest amnesty for illegal aliens, desperately sought for years by pro-immigration advocates and seemingly derailed by 9-11, is almost here. California Gov. Gray Davis has signed a bill giving illegal aliens the right to obtain driver's licenses in what is an enormous step toward the legal acceptance of illegal aliens and proof that ethnic pandering still trumps security in the United States.

A year ago, Davis vetoed a bill to allow illegal aliens to get driver's licenses. Back then, the intrepid Gray insisted that he wouldn't sign a bill unless it required that applicants have jobs and allowed the Department of Motor Vehicles to perform background checks. Now, the trepid Gray -- desperate for Hispanic votes to avoid his recall -- has signed a bill that does neither.

It is tempting to conclude that this is another reason why, if the recall fails, California should sink into the Pacific Ocean. But other states accept California driver's licenses, so the Davis sellout affects the nation. "We're giving away the country's most valuable document to people who are living here illegally," says immigration expert Marti Dinerstein, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. "It's a very dangerous situation."

The driver's license is a de facto national ID card, so handing it out to illegals is a near-amnesty. In most circumstances, if you have a driver's license, you won't be asked for any other form of ID. A driver's license is often the key to securing a job, getting a library card, voting, entering a federal building, getting a hazardous-materials license and boarding an airplane. It is the "breeder document" necessary to obtain all sorts of other official documentation.

Almost all of the Sept. 11 hijackers had state-issued or counterfeit driver's licenses or ID cards. Instead of tightening up the requirements for licenses in response to that attack, California has loosened them. California will soon give out licenses to illegals who have a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or a "matricula consular," an ID card issued by Mexican consulates. Translation: It will give out licenses to pretty much anyone.

The Internal Revenue Service created the ITIN in 1996 to encourage illegals to pay taxes. The IRS has issued 6 million ITINs with almost no security or authentication procedures. Only 2 million were used for filing returns, according to Marti Dinerstein. They are instead used as a form of ID. The IRS recently warned state DMVs: "If your state is considering legislation to accept ITINs as proof of identity for driver's licenses, please alert your legislators to potential security risks."

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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