Thursday, December 27, 2007

NY Driver's License Law Held Unconstitutional

This year has seen much controversy over the issue of the  driver's license eligibility of undocumented immigrants.  It even became an issue in the race for the Presiency of teh United States.  here is the latest on driver's licenses.  In a ruling handed down the night before Christmas (actually Dec. 20), the Honorable THOMAS F. LIOTTI, Village Justice in Nassau County, New York, dismissed charges against a noncitizen accused of driving without a license and ruled that the N.Y. driver's license law denying eligibility to undocumented immigrants was unconstitutional.  Whether or not the ruling stands on appeal, the well-crafted, clearly reasoned opinion is worth reading. Download quirogapuma_122007.pdf


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The State of Michigan disagrees:

Cox: Illegal immigrants can't get Michigan driver's license
12/27/2007, 6:04 p.m. EST
The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Illegal immigrants can no longer get a Michigan driver's license, Attorney General Mike Cox ruled Thursday, reversing a practice that has come under increasing scrutiny post-Sept. 11.

Michigan has been one of seven states to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. Attorney general opinions are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by the courts.

It was not immediately known how soon the ruling may take effect or what it means for illegal immigrants with currently valid licenses.

Michigan law prohibits the secretary of state from issuing a driver's license to a nonresident. Cox, a Republican, said it would be inconsistent with federal law to regard an illegal immigrant as a permanent resident in Michigan.

His decision, requested by state Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, could boost momentum for legislation pushed by GOP Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land creating a new driver's license and state ID card.
Whether illegal immigrants should get licenses has become a major political issue. Earlier this year, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, but he ended up withdrawing that plan after intense opposition.

The issue produced one of the most tense moments of the primary campaign so far, as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton stumbled in a debate, saying the Spitzer proposal "makes a lot of sense," yet "I did not say that it should be done." Clinton later came out against granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants

Only those who are Michigan residents and legally in the U.S. could get the new standard license under the plan.

Land's office was still wading through Cox's opinion and exploring its immediate implications, but it appears to "dovetail nicely" with her license initiative, spokesman Ken Silfven said. Land is attempting to comply with the federal Real ID Act, a law to make driver's licenses more secure and keep them out of the hands of would-be terrorists.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has been critical of the Real ID law. It argues the measure will turn driver's licenses into national ID cards and make it easy for identity thieves and private businesses to collect personal data from the cards.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday with the ACLU.

Cox's legal opinion overrules a 1995 opinion by former Democratic Attorney General Frank Kelley. Kelley suggested that denying a driver's license to an illegal immigrant might violate the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause, according to Cox. But Cox said "there can be no doubt that a rational basis exists for denying driver's licenses to illegal aliens."
Driving is a privilege, not a right. Illegal aliens are not residents of any state. Their out of status condition makes them non-residents in every state in the union. Legal residency is a universal requirement in every state. Furthermore, knowingly issuing a illegal alien a driver's license is contrary to federal law prohibiting the aiding and abetting of illegal aliens.

Posted by: Horace | Dec 27, 2007 6:36:13 PM

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