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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

SPITZER STRIKES DEAL WITH DHS: A WIN OR A LOSS FOR UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IMMIGRANTS?

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NY Governor Spitzer made news a few days ago by announcing that unlawfully present immigrants would be able to secure drivers licenses. Today his office announced that a deal was struck with the Department of Homeland Security and New York State will now issue three kinds of drivers licenses. An "enhanced" license will be as secure as a passport and will suffice as a form of identification for travel in and out of Canada under new border restriction rules. A second form of license will meet REAL ID standards and will not be available to those unlawfully present in the US. A third form of license will be available that states that it is not a valid form of federal identification.



Some immigration advocacy groups are complaining that the governor has caved in and the new identification is basically an "arrest me for being an illegal immigrant" card. New York government officials would not confirm whether possessing the card would constitute probable cause that a person is in the US unlawfully.



I can speak from a little experience here, however, in saying that the third tier licenses are likely to be popular. Tennessee started a system like this a few years ago where a drivers certificate was made available to undocumented immigrants and those legally here, but not possessing a social security number (like the spouse of an H-1B). The document looked like a regular drivers license but was marked clearly with a statement indicating the card was not a legal form of identification. The drivers' certificates were extremely popular. The certificates were recently dropped as anti-immigrant political power in the state legislature intensified and legislation was passed scrapping them.



Thanks to the reader who sent me this tip.

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Comments

  1. Sid's Avatar
    The popularity of this license will depend completely on whether the legals embrace it or not. If there were only two tiers - citizens and the rest, it would probably have worked better. I suspect that the legals would go for the REAL ID to avoid being harassed by law enforcement officers. If that happens, illegals are not going apply for a "deportation" license. Many of them may be unskilled, but they're not stupid.
  2. USC's Avatar
    "A WIN OR A LOSS FOR UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IMMIGRANTS?"

    A win for the illegals; a loss for those USCs who are opposed to a national id by stealth. Very disappointing!

    "(like the spouse of an H-1B)."

    The Tennessee program equated the spouse of a H1B with an illegal. Probably, to avoid the illegals from getting a scarlet letter. However, that makes it unfair to those legally here. I hope that that doesn't happen in NY.

    Aside from that my point about the H1B needing to be reformed is again highlighted. Congress needs to realize that while the H1B is not a GC it is a stepping stone to a GC. There is no public policy interest in preventing H1B spouses from driving. How would Nancy Pelosi put it? The H1B needs to be reformed to reflect the "realties of life"

    On a different note, Google with its cadres of immigrant engineers has placed the entire island of Manhattan on Street View. Click the link below to view INS' NY HQs at 26 Federal Plaza (the building with the US flag on the RHS). A High Res pic will pop up. Click on full screen, then use left and right arrows to get a 360 degree view. Use the up/down arrows to walk up and down the street or through Manhattan for that matter. Quite a feat and all courtesy of people from various nations working at GOOG.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=26+federal+plaza+ny+ny&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=50.244827,92.285156&ie=UTF8&ll=40.721161,-74.002104&spn=0.011839,0.029569&z=16&om=1&layer=c&cbll=40.715198,-74.003078&cbp=2,199.99999999999952,0.5,0,-8.92705486895993

    P.S. The pic should pop up automatically but if it doesn't click on street view on the upper right hand corner
  3. USC's Avatar
    "P.S. The pic should pop up automatically but if it doesn't click on street view on the upper right hand corner"

    Street view is enabled when the streets are highlighted in blue; if there is still no pic then click on the "human figure on the map."
  4. 's Avatar
    "Aside from that my point about the H1B needing to be reformed is again highlighted. Congress needs to realize that while the H1B is not a GC it is a stepping stone to a GC. There is no public policy interest in preventing H1B spouses from driving. How would Nancy Pelosi put it? The H1B needs to be reformed to reflect the "realties of life""

    I suspect these types of issues do not need to be addressed by Congress. Congress has been crystal clear in its intent, however states are being obtuse in their framing of local laws.

    Rather these issues can be resolved by the Supreme Court under the Equal Protection Clause by asking that all people on visas be treated similarly i.e. H holders be treated similar to green card holders when it comes to licences and in-state tuition.



  5. legal-forever-waiting-forever's Avatar
    so much for all the propaganda about foreigners increasing crime rates...here is what americans are gifting in return. it might be interesting to see if the anti immigrant types are also the pro gun types...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/28/AR2007102801654.html?hpid=topnews
  6. TX's Avatar
    Seems more like a major win for the REAL ID then anything. If NY can implement REAL ID, then why not any other state? This is sad, how the governer caved in. If nothing else, he should have been agaisnt REAL ID.
  7. Another voice's Avatar
    I see 2 sides to this story while these licences will allow for these migrant workers to recover some freedom of movement. Drive to work, take kjiids to school and go about everyday life without the fear of getting pulled over, is good. However this is the same as a marked licence it just rings like when in WWII the germans marked the Jewish population, for a while even though they were marked they could go about their everyday life but eventually it got worst. But I think at this point these immigrants will take anything that they can get, on principle its wrong to have this people in a different class.
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