Monday, October 29, 2007
I believe media and the extreme conservative right wing has been playing a big role of spewed xenophobia, ignorance and fear against the proposition of NY Governor Eliot Spitzer.
They had outcried with false statements that: Terrorist will attack U.S. If we provide a driver license; There it will be a massive voter fraud, Insecure cities, they can board a plain, they can enter an official building, etc, etc, those statements are just pathetic. At least somebody taking a rational action to protect the community rather than harm them.
Giving undocumented immigrants driver's licenses will make us safer.
As New Yorkers, we take the threat of terrorism very seriously. Having witnessed the most devastating attack on our nation in history, mourned the loss of friends and family and experienced the vulnerability that comes with having one's homeland under siege, we know firsthand the threat that terrorism poses.
Our state's public officials have no more essential obligation than ensuring the safety and security of New Yorkers. That's why we have now reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to implement the most secure and inclusive driver's license system in the country.
Under this agreement, the recent policy change we made to restore the ability to apply for a driver's license without regard to one's immigration status - and the anti-fraud security measures tied to it - will continue moving forward. However, along with this policy change, we also will develop a license that meets the security requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.
After several months of discussions, the Department of Homeland Security and the state DMV will implement a pilot program to develop an "Enhanced Driver's License." This license will be accepted at the Canadian border instead of a passport, which would have been required next year under federal law. In this way, our agreement represents a critical win for New York's economy - because cross-border trade would have suffered tremendously if the passport requirement were imposed.
Most importantly, however, the agreement we reached will make New York more secure.
Denying driver's licenses to New York's 1 million undocumented immigrants has not only forced thousands of unlicensed and uninsured drivers onto our roads, making our roads more dangerous for everyone, it also has meant that vital information about all these people who are living here is not in our DMV database - the largest law enforcement database in the country.
We are proposing to bring people out of the shadows and into the system by restoring their ability to apply for a driver's license. At the same time, we are increasing the security of the license by implementing the strictest standards in the nation.
Undocumented immigrants will not be able to apply for a license "over the counter." Rather, they will have to submit a current and valid foreign passport plus four points of current and valid ID. Each document will be examined by highly trained experts in a new Enhanced Identification Verification Unit, analyzed by state-of-the-art document authentication technology and subject to layers of biometric verification to prevent fraud. And rather than one license, New Yorkers will have the option of three secure licenses - meeting the standards established by REAL ID.
Since the REAL ID Act was passed, many states, including New York, have raised concerns about the cost, convenience and privacy of the new license. After raising these issues with the Department of Homeland Security, we are confident that the final regulations for REAL ID - which are coming out soon - will adequately address these concerns.
At the end of the day, this agreement will ensure we have both national standards for licenses and the ability to implement them in a practical way, by bringing as many people into the system as possible.
It is a powerful example of the federal government and New York State working together in the interests of national security. It is a win for our economy. And it is a major step forward for our security.