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Immigration-reform advocates are calling on the Department of Homeland Security to ban the use of California driver’s licenses as identification for boarding passenger planes, now that illegal aliens can obtain them.
“Since it is now so easy for anyone, including illegal aliens and terrorists, to get a California driver’s permit, it is clear that such a document no longer provides any assurance that the holder deserves to be allowed a seat on an airplane,” said Ed Nelson, chairman of U.S. Border Control, in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
As WorldNetDaily reported, California lawmakers and Gov. Gray Davis passed legislation earlier this month allowing illegal aliens in the state to apply for and receive a driver’s license.
Critics claim the bill’s passage sends the wrong message to immigrants and encourages them to break U.S. immigration law. They also claim the law will decrease public safety on California’s – and the nation’s – highways, as illegal immigrants who cannot read or speak English take to the roads. And some critics say the law threatens national security.
Davis had vetoed such legislation twice before, but Democrats in the Legislature managed to address his concerns in a new bill introduced earlier this summer.
“It seems as if politics take precedence over our national security and safety,” Nelson said. “September 11 has taught us nothing.”
Other immigration-reform activists also are calling on the federal government to dispute the new California law.
“[We] urge the U.S. Justice Department to challenge a new California law that will allow illegal aliens to obtain official … driver’s licenses,” says a separate letter by Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement, or FILE, to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
FILE says any state law pointedly granting such licenses to illegal aliens “is, unquestionably, an action that encourages [them] to remain in the United States, and is therefore in conflict with federal immigration law.”
But immigration-rights activists say the law was a good idea and actually will increase public safety.
“We believe everybody who drives a car should have a driver’s license,” says Michele Waslin, senior immigration policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza. “It’s better for all of us if all drivers are properly licensed and insured. It makes us all safer.”
“Undocumented people are going to be driving, regardless if they have a license,” she told WorldNetDaily. “So let’s give everybody one.”
Still, FILE says the issue is a matter of constitutionality, not politics.
“Under the Commerce Clause of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the Congress is delegated almost total authority over every aspect of immigration policy,” the group says. Meanwhile, “under the Supremacy Clause of Article VI, when a state law conflicts with a federal law enacted pursuant to Congress’ delegated authority, the state law must yield.”
Nelson added the matter also is an issue of securing the homeland.
“Refusing to accept driver’s licenses from any state that hands them out to non-citizens or other unidentifiable persons is a critical first step in protecting the traveling public,” he said. “We must take action to prevent our nation’s enemies from ever again using an airplane as a weapon of mass destruction.”
While California openly grants driver’s licenses to illegals, as WorldNetDaily reported some 14 other states may also inadvertently be making it easier for them to get licenses, though officials from some of the named states dispute that claim.
FILE also said it was difficult to oppose the new California law because some critics have been derided as racists.
“The … debate in California has taken on ominous racial and ethnic overtones,” said FILE’s statement, “showing that the political consequences of mass immigration threaten the very foundation of the country itself – the rule of law based on our written Constitution.”