New York Post - Lisense Bill May Sideswipe Hill

News Article

By:  Pete King
Date: Nov. 8, 2007
Location: New York, NY


NEW YORK POST - LICENSE BILL MAY SIDESWIPE HILL

By KENNETH LOVETT in Albany and GEOFF EARLE in D.C

In a move that could put Sen. Hillary Clinton on the spot, Rep. Pete King will soon introduce a bill in Congress that would block New York and other states from providing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
"I believe strongly that the federal government has the right to do it because illegal immigration and homeland security are federal issues," King (R-L.I.) told The Post.
King, the ranking GOP member of the House Homeland Security Committee, expects to introduce legislation next week with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) that would prohibit any state from giving licenses to illegal immigrants.
King said he decided on the legislation after hearing Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff say that although he opposes giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses, there is nothing the federal government can do to stop a state from doing so.
Prospects for passage of the measure in the Democratic-controlled Congress would be slim, but it could serve to put some lawmakers - such as Clinton - on the hot seat by forcing her to take a position on it.
King said he expects Republicans, including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to begin publicly pressuring Democrats to support the measure and allow it to come to the floor for a vote.
"This is one time when good government and good politics come together," King said.
King said he spoke about the bill with Giuliani, the GOP presidential front-runner, who yesterday called for federal action.
Giuliani told reporters in Washington that allowing illegal aliens to have driver's licenses would prove "hopelessly confusing" to federal immigration officials and employers responsible for lawfully employing people.
He also knocked Clinton - who fumbled with the issue during last week's Democratic debate before coming out in favor of Gov. Spitzer's plan to let illegal aliens have licenses - for suggesting a state-by-state solution.
"Hillary, welcome to the federal society," Giuliani said during a radio interview on "The Mike Gallagher Show."
"She happens to pick the one area that is actually the core responsibility of the federal government: preventing illegal immigration and securing our borders.
"This could be her worst suggestion of all."
Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson said: "The federal government should spend its time fixing the failed national immigration policy instead of preventing states from dealing practically with a security concern laid on their doorsteps by the federal government's failure."
Said Clinton spokesman Isaac Baker: "Given Rudy Giuliani's past support for sanctuary cities, his comments today are particularly ironic."
Meanwhile, a NY1 poll released yesterday shows that 55 percent of New Yorkers, including 51 percent in New York City, oppose Spitzer's revamped plan.
Just 29 percent of the 1,353 registered voters surveyed and 32 percent in the city favor the new plan.
Also yesterday, upstate Democratic congressman John Hall broke with Spitzer. He said he was concerned that Spitzer's plan "could present security risks" and "make New York a magnet state for illegal immigrants."
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile in New York