Driver licenses for illegals is pseudo amnesty

Posted: Sep 29, 2003 12:00 AM

In a flip-flop to court the Hispanic vote, California Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill to allow illegal aliens to get driver licenses.

Shamelessly pandering, he signed it on Sept. 5 in front of a crowd of hundreds of immigrants and illegals who released balloons while chanting "No recall!"

Twice before, Davis had rejected the bill.

A driver license is colloquially known as the "keys to the kingdom." It is the "breeder document" that enables an alien to acquire all sorts of fraudulent documentation.

A driver license is not merely a license to drive a car. It gives the illegal alien a passport to board a plane, get a job, rent an apartment or car, open a bank account, enter a federal building, apply for social services, travel back and forth across our borders with Mexico and Canada, buy a gun and even register to vote.

Under current law, a California driver license can only be obtained by a resident with a Social Security number, and the Department of Motor Vehicles checks its validity with the Social Security Administration.

Under the new law, aliens can instead present an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by Internal Revenue Service, but those numbers are worthless for identification purposes and the IRS won't share its information anyway.

U.S. Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., calls the new law an "invitation to forgery" for terrorists and criminals. That's because the new system, which lacks any credible identity check, will allow criminals of any nationality to apply for a new license under a phony taxpayer ID number and use it for illegal purposes.

An internal DMV memo obtained by KCRA, the NBC television affiliate in Sacramento, shows that the financial cost to California taxpayers will be immense when the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2003. When the 2 million illegal aliens now in California line up for their first-time driver licenses, DMV says it will need "1,000 new positions to be located in 16 new temporary field offices for 12 to 18 months of operation."

Davis ignored the big lesson of Sept. 11, 2001. All 9/11 hijackers had one or more state driver licenses, which enabled them not only to board the fatal planes but also to live and travel in the United States undetected while they plotted their crimes.

Unfortunately, California is not alone in committing this travesty. Fourteen more states allow illegal aliens to obtain driver licenses.

They are Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

Seven of the 19 hijackers boarded the 9/11 planes with driver licenses obtained from Virginia, which did not then require proof of identity from applicants. Virginia has since remedied that dangerous policy.

New Jersey, another state that provided driver licenses to 9/11 hijackers, now requires applicants to prove they are legally in the United States.

The issue has become a political hot potato in states where illegal aliens have congregated. A sign-waving, slogan-shouting crowd rallied in Atlanta on Sept. 16 to demand that the Georgia Legislature allow the estimated 228,000 illegal aliens in that state to get licenses.

The General Accounting Office told the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 9 how easy it is to get fake licenses. In two out of three attempts, federal investigators were able to get licenses from motor vehicle departments using fraudulent licenses from other states, birth certificates or Social Security cards.

A driver license is pseudo amnesty and just about as much sheer lunacy as real amnesty; a driver license confers identity, it is almost a national ID card. The driver license works to erase the distinction between legals and illegals.

The effects of giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens can ripple into other areas, such as enabling illegal aliens to attend some state universities at resident rates. Illegal aliens are prohibited from buying or transferring firearms. However, because gun-transfer forms rely on the honor system to establish citizenship, the driver license will be a boost to the firearms smuggling rings operating in Southern California.

Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Justice, conceded, "If they lie on their dealer record of sale and say, 'yes they are a citizen' when they are not, there is ... not going to be a further check completed."

Californians are starting to collect signatures to repeal the new driver license law by referendum. In the meantime, Congress should pass H.R. 3052, authored by Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Col., to withhold federal highway funds from those states that give licenses to illegal aliens, just as Congress has done to force the states to enact acceptable laws about seat belts, speed limits and the drinking age.