Seward, Schoharie Officials Oppose Drivers’ Licenses For Illegals

James L. Seward

October 01, 2007

    Senator James L. Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez today joined Schoharie County Clerk Indica Jaycox, Earl Van Wormer, chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, County Sheriff John Bates and other officials in calling upon Governor Spitzer to rescind a policy change that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses in New York.

    "The governor’s action – again trying an end run around the legislature – would seriously place every New Yorker at risk and dramatically compromise our security," Seward said. "And it’s not fair to the thousands of immigrants who played by the rules and became part of our society legally."

    "We need to have open debate and discussion about this issue before we can possibly allow these changes to occur," Lopez said. "Not only does this administrative policy change directly contradict measures that will be put in place by the Federal Real ID Act, but it will allow possible foreign terrorists to obtain the right to travel throughout our country, and that is unacceptable."

    "I’m very confused, as is every individual who has spoken to me about this issue as to why the governor feels the need to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license," said Earl Van Wormer, chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors. "This is a slap in the face to every citizen and person who has come to this country the right way. I truly hope the governor rethinks this issue."

    Last week the governor rescinded an executive order issued in 2002 that required all applicants seeking New York State drivers' licenses to show valid social security cards which proves they are citizens of the United States. Seward and Lopez said that Spitzer’s policy creates dangerous loopholes in state motor vehicle regulations that allow anyone to apply for and receive a driver’s license regardless of citizenship status. Furthermore, the new policy may violate the Federal Real ID Act and could make a state driver's license an unacceptable form of proof of citizenship at our nation’s borders.

    "A valid New York State driver's license currently is a universally acceptable form of identification," said Schoharie County Sheriff John Bates. "It is accepted because of the stringent requirements to obtain one. Weakening those requirements compromises the integrity of our system and makes law enforcement efforts more difficult."

    "The man we thought we elected is not the man we got," said John Radliff, Schoharie County dairy farmer. "The people of New York deserve better than this."

    "I do not believe this is fair to our citizens and to the immigrants who came to the United States legally," said Indica Jaycox, Schoharie County Clerk. "I am opposed to Governor Spitzer’s plan. I am asking the governor to reconsider his decision and to possibly listen to the county clerks in the state about how concerned we are."