NEWS

Spitzer Admits Defeat on Licenses for Illegal Aliens

By Matthew Harwood

Embattled New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is dropping his plan to issue state driver's licenses to illegal aliens due to overwhelming criticism that has hurt him politically, reports The New York Times.

The governor's plan, announced in September, was initially to issue a New York driver's license that did not take immigration status into account.

When opposition arose to this plan, Spitzer responded in late October with a new plan that featured three tiers of New York driver's licenses: the first was a normal driver's license that an illegal immigrant could obtain; the second was a secure driver's license for legal residents, which complied with the federal government's REAL ID legislation; the third, and even more secure, driver's license would be for those who cross the U.S.-Canadian border frequently and it would comply with theWestern Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Spitzer's new version has failed to persuade as well and with his poll numbers plunging, he has decided to scuttle the plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants altogether.

On Tuesday night, the governor said the state would make the third tier of license available for frequent border crossers, and continue offering the same driver’s license it offers now, but not extend eligibility for it to illegal immigrants.

He said the state would put on hold the plan to adopt the Real ID, which has been championed by the Bush administration. The governor said he wanted to wait until federal regulations for Real ID licenses were issued next year before deciding how to proceed.

Even if the plan for giving illegal aliens driver's licenses wasn't scrapped, Spitzer said, it would have likely failed anyhow due to legal challenges, the legislature cutting off funding to the Department of Motor Vehicles, or upstate county clerks refusing to follow the directive.

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