Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today joined Assembly members Marc Molinaro (R,I,C-Tivoli) and Peter Lopez (R,I,C-Schoharie) and Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner in denouncing the Governor’s change in policy to allow illegal immigrants to obtain NYS drivers licenses, despite Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 502(1) which requires a Social Security Number in order to obtain a license.
"The tragic events of September 11, 2001, of which New York was at the epicenter, taught us that we must be vigilant in order to keep our State and country safe", said Senator Saland. "The simple precaution of requiring a Social Security Number to prove one’s legal status in this country is a commonsense way of helping to prevent terrorists from obtaining one of the most routinely accepted forms of identification used in this country," Saland continued.
"Governor Spitzer has seriously erred in his decision. This opens the door to potential abuse and undermines efforts to strengthen national security," said Assemblyman Lopez. "A legitimate drivers' license opens the doors to many other privileges normally reserved for legal citizens. I am calling on Governor Spitzer to immediately repeal this administrative policy change, which requires no legislative approval or check on citizenship status."
"This new policy issued by Governor Spitzer has taken everyone by surprise. There was no public debate and something of this importance should be vetted through the people’s house in the state Legislature," said Assemblyman Molinaro. "We have so many questions that need to be addressed by the governor and his staff so that we can attempt to explain the ramifications of this new policy to our constituents at home."
"The changes that were implemented after 9/11 were intended to ensure that the person using one of the most secure, acceptable forms of identification in the nation is in fact the person they say they are. The proposed change not only threatens that security, it is also uniformly discriminatory against New York citizens who will still be held to higher proof standards to obtain a license, " said Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner.
"The Governor chose to wait until after 9-11 to announce a policy that will unilaterally and undeniably compromise security. A drivers license is a privilege and a gateway document to access a multitude of opportunities including air travel, as demonstrated by the 9-11 terrorists. Two weeks ago we paused to remember the horrific events perpetrated by those terrorists. Who will forget the nightmare of 9-11? Who did not weep? Who did not grieve? This blatant disregard for the safety of New Yorkers cannot go unanswered," Saland continued. "I commend Senator Vincent Leibell, Chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, who is considering a number of options, including holding public hearings and commencing litigation against the Governor," Saland added.