Hawley Supports County Clerks Rejection of Spitzer’s Driver’s License Proposal

October 5, 2007

Having previously and publicly stated his opposition to the Governor’s new driver’s license plan, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) was pleased by the actions of the New York State Association of County Clerks, who have joined the growing opposition of the plan. The plan has already been opposed by both minority and majority Members of Congress, the Border Patrol Council, the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, Hispanic-American advocacy group You Don’t Speak For Me!, and 9/11 Families for a Secure America, among others.

“Quite obviously, this plan puts the lives of Americans at risk. Validating immigrants is not the job of the governor of any state, rather than coming first to the people to review and approve his plans,” said Hawley. “It is outrageous and insulting to every New Yorker that our Governor would behave in such a manner. I am very pleased that county clerks across the state have made the right choice to do what’s in the best interest of the citizens of this state and nation.”

Yesterday, at an emergency meeting in Albany the Association voted in support of a resolution opposing Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and potential terrorists. The vote was 30-3 against Governor Spitzer’s proposal, with three clerks abstaining. The vote against the Governor included the Association’s President Kathy Marchione and the clerks from Monroe and Genesee Counties. In fact, these clerks (including Marchione) were also among the 13 clerks who stated that not only do they not support the Governor’s plan, but they will not implement the plan in their county.

Genesee County Clerk Don M. Read stated, “As an elected official, I consider my oath of office to ‘support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York’ to be a very serious obligation. As currently proposed, the Governor’s ill-advised and hastily released initiative to provide driver’s licenses to illegal aliens will not be implemented in the Genesee County Motor Vehicle Office. To do so would violate federal law, and therefore, my constitutional responsibility.”

Additionally, under Section 502, subsection 1, of the State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, the Governor and the Commissioner of DMV would be in direct violation of state law requiring a Social Security number be provided to obtain a driver’s license upon implementation of their proposal.

Because of this, Hawley and many Assembly people have asked the Governor to rescind his proposal – or they will take legal action against him. “The deadline for pulling the plug on this fiasco is October 31 and yet the Governor has made no effort to edit his plan or have a sincere public meeting to discuss how we can solve this problem,” stated Hawley.

A few states have previously introduced plans similar to the Governor’s. Not only did these states see increased immigration rates, but also a higher incidence of crimes – both misdemeanor crimes and felonies. Tennessee was one of these states. After the crime rate skyrocketed, the Federal Bureau of Investigations conducted an inquiry. The result of the investigation was the state terminating the lax driver’s license plan.

Read commented, “To plan and put into motion a program that has such far-reaching implications without the advice and involvement of the New York State Legislature or the County Clerks, who are expected to implement the plan, and without the ability for our citizens to have their interests and concerns heard demonstrates an unconscionable arrogance,” said Read.