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Illegals Driver's Licenses Debate Rages

Monday, 22 October 2007 04:28 PM EDT

An Oct. 21 New York Times editorial defends the order by Gov. Eliot Spitzer permitting illegal aliens to receive New York State drivers’ licenses.

Currently, it is necessary for every driver's license applicant to present to the Department of Motor Vehicles a Social Security number or a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining why the applicant has no Social Security number. Under the governor’s new executive order, applicants will need only to present a passport issued by the United States or any foreign government for identification purposes.

The presentation of such a foreign passport cannot verify that the applicant has not overstayed his or her legal presence in the United States and some say counterfeit passports are available for purchase.

There is a dangerous flaw in the governor's plan. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not require every adult to carry a government-issued photo ID. Driver's licenses fill this need. They have become a nationally accepted form of identification. Drivers licenses are even accepted at airports as sufficient identification for boarding purposes.

Therefore, the authenticity of New York State drivers licenses affects the security of every American.

The governor has decided that the state would be better off if illegal aliens are issued driver's licenses. In so doing, he would add New York to the eight other states already doing that. The governor points to the support of his executive order given by Richard Clarke, described by The New York Times as “an adviser under the last four presidents, mostly on national security issues.”

When told that, according to the Times, “72 percent of New Yorkers are against the policy, according to a Sienna poll,” the governor replied, “Now we are back in the world which I do relish, which is having good debates about policy, and you win some, you lose some. I don’t expect to win every one of those debates, but we’re going to push the agenda.”

What exactly is the agenda? I believe the Times made that agenda clear when in the same editorial supporting the governor, the Times stated, “The frustrations of the plan’s critics are understandable, but their quarrel is with Washington, which continues to avoid addressing the immigration problem head on. Mr. Spitzer’s proposal for making drivers licenses more broadly available is a calm injection of reason into a subject that has seen too little of it.”

In its subsequent editorial of Oct. 22, the Times excoriates the opponents of the proposed federal amnesty law which was defeated and those who oppose governor Spitzer’s executive order providing illegal aliens with drivers licenses, calling them “the new demagogues:” So much for rational discussion.

The Times’ position on legalizing the status of illegal aliens in the United States, estimated at between 12 and 20 million, is well known. They are for it.

The Times prefers to call illegal aliens “undocumented aliens.” Opponents of the governor’s proposal and those who opposed the Bush, McCain, Kennedy legislation seeking to legitimize the status of illegal aliens and give them amnesty and “a path to citizenship,” do not want Governor Spitzer to provide illegal aliens with drivers licenses increasing their ability to obtain jobs which current United States law forbids them to hold.

I don’t know where Gov. Spitzer stood on the Bush-McCain-Kennedy legislation, but I bet he supported it and is doing what he can with the Times to undo the unexpected and enormous defeat suffered by supporters of the self-designated “Grand Compromise.”

If a general election were held today for the office of governor, or in 2010, when it will, in fact, be held, any candidate who supports the granting of driver's licenses to illegal aliens would, I believe, go down to defeat. If Gov. Spitzer and the Times take their position as a matter of conscience, they should not retreat.

I don’t believe it is a matter of conscience. The federal government has already passed legislation requiring a Social Security number to be presented with a driver's license application, which goes into effect in 2013. The Times believes we should face that barrier at that time. No steamroller or editorial board can withstand the strength of a people united in their demands.

Social Clubs Under Scrutiny

H. Dale Hemmerdinger, according to The New York Times, “has resigned from a private social club that has drawn criticism for its lack of diversity.” This is ridiculous. The Harmonie Club, reports the Times, “was founded in 1852 by German-Jewish immigrants who were routinely denied admission to the established clubs of the time.” The club, according to Hemmerdinger, “doesn’t discriminate on race, creed…[or] religion.” One member is quoted as saying, “It’s a Jewish club,” and “no one [not Jewish] seems interested in joining.”

The Harmonie Club would welcome non-Jewish members, but assume it was only a club restricted to Jews?

Does that violate any law or moral code of our society?

If it does, does it mean that clubs like the Columbus Club which, guess what, is primarily, perhaps exclusively, Italian, should now be shamed into accepting other members? Is there no legitimate reason for Catholics, Protestants, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other ethnics to have clubs or associations which are restricted in their faith, race and ethnicity requirements? Are all of these clubs now to be told that they must be open to all?

I came to accept the fact that German-Jews at one time looked down on Jews like me, whose ancestry was Polish. I don’t begrudge them their snobbery. If they don’t want me, that is their right.

If they do want me, I’ve decided they can’t have me. I imagine, but do not know, that American blacks may find that Caribbean blacks of the English colonies have similar barriers limiting their associations or clubs to those coming to these shores or born here into the English traditions of those delightful tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea.

Let’s talk about Congress. I recall when I was there back in 1969, there were only 12 Jews in the House and we had our own caucus. The Italians, who were 38 in number, had theirs, and the Greeks, only 3 in number, had theirs, as did the blacks, who now have 43 members, the Hispanics now have 21.

I recall a conversation with a new member and friend, now deceased, Jerry Ambro of Long Island. One afternoon, Jerry sat down next to me in the House of Representatives in the early 1970s. He said, “How many of you are there?” I knew immediately he meant the Jewish caucus. I said, “Twelve, and how many of you are there? He replied, “Thirty-eight.” I said, “What do you do when you meet?” He said, “Mostly, we eat, and what do you do?” I replied, “Mostly, we cry.”

In the New York State Assembly in Albany, currently there are ethnic caucuses. One is the black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian caucus which has 53 members and once refused to admit Vito Lopez because they claimed he was really Italian, although he claimed he had a Hispanic grandparent, his father’s father.

He is now an especially powerful member of the legislature as a result of being the Democratic County Leader of Brooklyn; perhaps he has been admitted. The women’s caucus has 51 members. There are so-called legislative caucuses, e.g., Italian, Irish, Jewish and Greek.

The City Council has had a black and Hispanic caucus. I am told that the caucus agreed to accept the one Asian member — Asians are now about 10 percent of the City’s population. At one time, whites were a majority of the population of the City of New York. No longer.

According to the New York City Department of City Planning, based on the 2000 census, non-Hispanic whites are 35 percent of the population, Hispanics are 27 percent, non-Hispanic blacks comprise 24.5 percent and Asians are about 10 percent. The City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus has 25 members; the Italian caucus has 14 members; the Jewish caucus has 18 members; the women’s caucus has 16 members.

What would happen if white members of the Council, now representing a minority white population, were to form a City Council caucus? All hell would break loose. The editorials would denounce it as a racist action. How would it differ from the others? We are getting crazy in our demands upon each other in this City. Dale Hemmerdinger was wrong to leave the Harmonie Club.

My own opinion is that caucuses should revolve around and change with substantive legislative issues, and not be formed and permanent on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.

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An Oct. 21 New York Times editorial defends the order by Gov. Eliot Spitzer permitting illegal aliens to receive New York State drivers’ licenses. Currently, it is necessary for every driver's license applicant to present to the Department of Motor Vehicles a Social...
Monday, 22 October 2007 04:28 PM
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