Hawley To Governor: Stop Reckless Plan That Endangers New Yorkers

A Letter to the Editor from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia)

I am proud to join with the many New Yorkers who have stood up against Governor Spitzer’s new Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) policy that threatens the security of our state and its 18 million residents by allowing illegal aliens and potential terrorists to easily obtain driver’s licenses. Additionally, this plan, lacking any input from the public or the State Legislature (and still unseen by any of us), violates the law. The Governor must be stopped!

Specifically, the Governor and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles are in direct violation of state law that requires a Social Security number be provided to obtain a driver’s license (Section 502, subsection 1 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law).

Currently, the DMV requires driver’s license applicants to submit Social Security numbers to prove they are legal residents or to provide proof from the Department of Homeland Security that they were not eligible for a Social Security number. With the Governor’s new plan, the DMV will begin to accept foreign passports and birth certificates from immigrants as proofs of identification for new license applications. Immigrants will no longer need to provide legal status paperwork or a Social Security card. As a result, illegal immigrants in New York will be allowed to obtain New York State driver’s licenses.

It is crucial that the legislature act to mandate strict minimum requirements for obtaining licenses and identification cards such as obtaining a photo and providing a Social Security number or ineligibility and remove the Commissioner’s discretion concerning these matters in order to protect against identity theft and thwart terrorism. In fact, the Federal 9/11 Commission explicitly found that the 19 highjackers use of at least 35 driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards resulted in them having the capability to rent cars and apartments, open bank accounts, take flying lessons, board commercial aircrafts and generally blend into American culture.

Furthermore, the new DMV policy is contrary to the requirements contained in the Real ID Act of 2005 that requires states to adopt national standards for driver’s licenses by 2009 in order for those licenses to be recognized as a valid form of identification by a federal agency. Such national standards include the submission of a valid Social Security number or verification of ineligibility. New York is one of 30 states to verify the Social Security numbers of their applicants in anticipation of the implementation of the Real ID Act.

The Federal Real ID Act also requires driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards to expire when a legal alien’s visa expires. As a responsible Legislature, it is our duty to ensure compliance with the Federal Real ID Act so that New Yorkers are not burdened with having to carry multiple forms of identification in order to board a plane, enter a federal court house or handle federal tax issues.

This is why I have sponsored legislation to stop the Governor’s plan and I have also joined with Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga), members of the Assembly Minority Conference and county clerks from across the state to issue an ultimatum that Governor Spitzer and the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) immediately pull the plug on a policy to allow illegal aliens to obtain New York driver’s licenses or they will face a lawsuit. Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to stop this fiasco from coming to fruition.