Saturday, October 20, 2007

In NY state, there's some pushback against Gov. Spitzer (D)'s plan to offer driver's licenses to the "undocumented":

John F. Lehman, a former Navy secretary who served on the September 11 commission, called the governor's decree "absurd."

"It's a perfect formula for al Qaeda. They won't be able to resist it. They will be able to come to New York," he said. "It's going to become a magnet to lawbreakers because the surrounding states will adhere to the federal standards."

Critics say the credibility of a New York driver's license could be called into question in other states, because applicants would not be required to prove that they have a Social Security number.

The issue began in July 2006, when an appeals court ruled that the state could have wider latitude in issuing driver's licenses. Republican Gov. George E. Pataki decreed that immigrants would need to prove they were in the United States legally before getting licenses. During the gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Spitzer vowed to change that. With the Republican-led Senate adamantly opposed to any change, the governor bypassed the Legislature by issuing an executive order.

The plan is supposed to go into effect in December, but the Senate's Republican majority has pledged to override Mr. Spitzer's order in an emergency session Oct. 22.

The public is opposed to Mr. Spitzer's plan as well, a recent poll shows.

A Zogby survey of 718 likely voters in New York found that 65 percent of the state's voters are against the proposal. The poll, taken Oct. 11-15, showed that nearly half — 47 percent — of Democrats oppose the plan, compared with 92 percent of Republicans.