November 4th, 2007
10:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Drivers hit by illegal immigrants speak to Clinton

Clinton spoke in Des Moines Saturday.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - At least two people spoke up in front of Hillary Clinton on Saturday in support of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, an issue Clinton said relates to a larger problem "we have to solve."

The senator from New York had just finished speaking to a group of Polk County, Iowa, field staff in Des Moines and was getting ready to leave the room when Clinton supporter Lee Jolliffe started yelling over the crowd noise.

"There are two of us here," Jolliffe said, "who have been hit by those unlicensed drivers. It's not a privilege, it’s a protection."

Jolliffe was pointing out that drivers who can have licenses are more likely to have insurance.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Clinton responded. "I appreciate you raising that because, you know, the federal government has failed. The federal government has failed, and states are trying to figure out what to do."

She continued, "But two people right in this room have been hit, have been hit by people who are here and undocumented."

That prompted one man to shout, "More than two!"

"More than two," Clinton replied. "So, you know, at some point we have to solve this problem because we're seeing all sorts of consequences. So thank you for being a witness to that. Thank you."

Jolliffe later told CNN she wanted to give Clinton an opportunity to defend herself on the issue, one that created some heat at Tuesday night's debate.

Asked about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's controversial plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Clinton said it "makes a lot of sense" but stopped short of endorsing the plan.

"We want to know who's in New York," she said. "We want people to come out of the shadows."

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, claimed Clinton's answer was inconsistent. And Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, called the plan "troublesome," adding that "a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view."

Sen. Barack Obama later said, "Senator Clinton left us wondering where she stood on every single hard question from Iran to Social Security to drivers' licenses for undocumented workers."

-CNN's Chris Welch and Steve Brusk

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. bettyc, Havre de Grace, MD

    I am a 'good' Democrat. and I wish I could vote for my party in '08. However, the little phony show that Hillary put on about licenses for illegal aliens is just exactly what the Bushies have been doing for six years. A vote for Clinton is a vote for Bush. What I want is an honest president. She isn't it. Betty C in Havre de Grace, MD

    November 4, 2007 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  2. kole niagarafalls ontario

    To Jason, St Louis, Missouri in canada immigrants are allowed to have drivers license and insurance and they are law abiding so if you sit down and think and use your head you realise its the best thing to do in the use and also this way immigrants are registered in the system to me i think it is a great idea

    November 4, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  3. Raman, Plano TX

    In most countries foreigners who enter a country without proper authorization, would be termed as enemy number one of the state or as spies.

    In US, foreigners who come without proper authorization, do not have to worry about being termed as enemies of state or spies. They are automatically granted status of an immigrant and have the a specialization of being ILLEGAL.

    Maybe I should go back to Asia and start educating Asians on how to become an immigrant (ILLEGAL) in US and thus they can avoid torturous immigration process implemented by US embassies in their respective countries.

    November 4, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  4. Daniel, NY

    Check out the dirty tricks the GOP is already resorting to around this issue!

    November 4, 2007 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  5. Shosxi New York NY

    Why don't you just have Tehran Status News covering the Election.

    November 4, 2007 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  6. Catalina, Stony Brook, NY

    Why not have people who are here illegally obtain an international license from their home country? Let other countries create a consulate-based DMV and issue their own licenses, based on American rules of the road and driving tests.

    There's no reason a non-citizen or non-legal resident needs to have an American identity document.

    If I go to Europe to visit, I can obtain an international license, but it doesn't begin a chain of events to make me French or British, or Spanish.

    November 4, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  7. Keith, Chicago, IL

    We need to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its perfectly inept administration of existing immigration policies. The right wingers who now pander are ridiculous with their "send 'em packin" mantra.

    November 4, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  8. Tanive, Menlo Park, CA

    Please tell me that most of these responses are JOKES! I am ashamed of associating myself with you ignorant Americans!
    All of your prejudices are based on FEAR!
    Where on earth did you read that "illegal" immigrants cannot drive? or that "they kill so many people because they are not experience[d]" (Posted By faye,newton,ma : November 3, 2007 11:22 pm)? Or that they do not pay taxes?!!
    Well guess what! These "illegal" immigrants are not any more likely to get into car accidents than you "legal" Americans!
    Furthermore, these “illegal immigrants” are REQUIRED TO PAY TAXES and yet they do not benefit from many government services like Social Security!!! As research shows,

    “The widespread belief is that illegal aliens cost more in government services than they contribute to the economy. This belief is undeniably false,” (
    “undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy through their investments and consumption of goods and services… Yet undocumented immigrants are barred from almost all government benefits, including food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, federal housing programs, Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and the earned income tax credit (EITC).”

    WOW! They pay taxes yet they do not have a say in where their money goes AND…
    So please, I ask you, educate yourselves before spitting out your silly beliefs founded solely on FEAR.

    PLUS allowing them to have licenses does not mean they would become U.S. citizens. OPEN YOUR EYES! This would only benefit you...especially if you end up in a car accident with an undocumented immigrant! They would be able to get insurance, ultimately meaning YOU WOULD GET PAID!
    Dehumanizing undocumented immigrants as the vast majority you have done disgusts me to the core of my soul (it's a gift that many of you are undoubtedly lacking)

    November 4, 2007 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  9. Nilaham Tehran Iran

    Hey, I am 50% Black 50% White 40% Arab 40% Spanish 30% Europian 30% African 12% Australian. My Grandmother is from Iceland and my Grandfather is from Russia, and my cousin is related to Dick Cheney. How come I am not a Candidate ?

    November 4, 2007 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  10. Pete-NYC

    Big deal-driver's license.
    It sounds like a precious thing to have.
    Another privilege for a better race!
    I don’t think that any legal incense would give anybody opportunity to kill.
    We better fix our sick system.
    By the way-any smart illegal would say no to this stupid “license for illegal” idea.
    Any redneck upstate office clerk or cop would report or arrest them. Get a life!
    I don’t think that illegal aliens are that stupid.
    They are obviously not-because they are doing much better than 90% of welfare south.
    At least they work!
    Give them licenses-let them pay so we can have more money to spend.

    November 4, 2007 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  11. Fair,Washington, DC

    I think I can guarantee Obama the vote now,
    Meet me at the voting booth Obama!!

    Posted By Bobb,nashua, NH : November 3, 2007 11:06 pm
    Susan and BejanLuv,

    I am curious to know what was Obama's answer to giving driver's license to illegals?

    Posted By bee, ny : November 4, 2007 12:20 am

    Thr answer to your question Bee is after Obama jumped on Hillary for not answering a very difficult question and be ready with a perfect answer that she knows is not black and white he was asked by Tim Russert what his stand on the issue is and he basically agreed with Clinton that its not a priviledge and said he would not dismiss the idea of GIVING licenses to illegal aliens because he deals with the same problem in Illinois. Don't waste your time on trying to figure out what Benluv and Susan are talking about, they are obviously Obama supporters or some other candidate supporter and want to act like this issue was the end all and be all on their vote for Clinton. Yea right, vote for who you want but don't treat people like they have stupid written on their forehead Ben and Susan

    November 4, 2007 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  12. Alex

    No. You are wrong McKinney. Wrong. Anyone who knows the law and is capable of a little critical thinking can answer these questions. People who are in this country illegally need to be deported. Period."

    Maybe you want to ask yourself, Can America afford to deport the 12million illegals in this country?

    Obviously americans are not capable of a little critical thinking, I watched this debate and what I got from Clinton's answer was I don't support it but I think what the Gov of NY is try to do is a good idea since congress has failed to do something about immigration, the state is trying to do something.

    I think some of you need to go back and watch that debate again and stop allowing the media to think for you.

    November 4, 2007 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  13. Paul NY

    They would still have to pass a drivers test to get the licences. They would still have to pay the same fee you would , whats the problem?

    Just ranting and raving thay they shouldn't be here is going to accomplish nothing. They ARE here, why not know who they are?

    November 4, 2007 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  14. Cleve, Litchfield Park, Arizona

    Let's see, they broke the law by entering this country illegally, the broke the law by not being licensed to drive, they broke the law by not being properly insured. Apparently they are little concerned with the law. So what kind of convoluted logic would cause a person to believe granting a drivers license to people that have little respect for the law prevent auto accidents?
    The fact is, one does preclude, or prevent the other.
    How many legal citizens that lawfully licensed and insured are involved in auto accidents each year? I would have to conclude that number is ZERO if one uses the reasoning expressed by the people here.
    Is it a fact that aren't any accidents involving citizens that are legally licensed and insured each year??
    WELL ????

    November 4, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  15. Nick Phoenix, AZ

    I think that some of you people are being silly. It is pretty clear that the overall intention of this is to force illegal immigrants to register somehow. Everyone that says that illegals should be deported is correct. However, some random state Governor cannot enforce deportation in any sense..that is up to the federal government. If this is not happening, the state governments still need to do SOMETHING in regards to illegal immigrants. Allowing them to get a drivers license is fine. No one is saying they should just be given a license, obviously. Let's not be dense. They would have to pass the test, just like everyone else that gets a license. This is an attempt by a state government to help mitigate a huge issue that the federal government is not acting appropriately on. Everyone needs to stop being panicky and think about the issues with a clear head, instead of just being alarmists. It also strikes me as ironic that the rest of the Democratic candidates are essentially just taking pot shots at Hillary now. In doing so, they have all but conceded the nomination to her.

    November 4, 2007 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  16. Sam, IA

    I wish the hate radio crowd would stick to Fox and Rush. Mega dittos and atta boys are about as far as thier analysis of any issue goes. Illegals do NOT draw social security because they have no number. As many as 200 of them will give the same ss# and the poeple hiring them know that. As far as licensing them you at least have an address to start the search for any of them that may have committed a serious crime and will be able to screen the illegals from the terrorists.
    The packing plants, poultry and construction and roofing industries here in the midwest are staffed completely by illegals and the owners of these businesses are the republican stalwarts of our state. Point the sites at the right targets, numbskulls.

    November 4, 2007 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  17. Ruth,Andover,mass

    This is not an issue to report on. Obviously cnn is playing tricks for clinton......I just watched the debate online because I was unable to watch that day and you know, Obama came prepared to Philly debate and grabbed the bull by it's horn. I've been waiting for this longest and I think my vote is now decided.
    Go, Omama. I mean I just liked Obama

    November 4, 2007 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  18. Thompson,Ks,Mo

    Now clinton enters the face of Republicans competition topic. She has already declared herself a winner with the democrats and has no need to compete with them anyway. She goes flashing herself in the country till this weekend when Obama slowed her down.
    It is insane for anyone to vote for Hillary. She has already demonstrated that she is going to ignore the Citizen of America and listen selectively....
    The media that love her, come to the debate with well selected questions and she doesn't have to answer them....
    They have blocked Obama for the longest. This is cowboys country and we need no real Person to lead us!
    Just my thought.....

    November 4, 2007 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  19. Don, Akron Ohio

    People need to get a grip.

    A license isn't a priviledge. It's designed to show proof that you have been educated in driving law and safety.

    If it's anything else to certain people, they're reading something into it.

    November 4, 2007 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  20. alan St.Louis MO




    November 4, 2007 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  21. Melvin Mountain Iraon, Mn

    Well now I suppose people are going to blame Hillary Clinton for another of bush's screw ups.

    And I love your headline. Instead of what the article is, you make sure it is a pan against Hillary. I think we should dismantle the MSM and start over. This country deserves a press that is fair and honest. And as lont as the republicans own it all we are going to get is suck up republican news. Shame shame what you people have helped to be done to our great country. Can you sleep at night. Do you see all those coffins you helped create. Do you see all the bodies.

    November 4, 2007 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  22. Nick, Eden Praire MN

    People, giving illegal people licenses is a terrible idea because it encourages them to come over here. You can't pretend you're tough against illegal immigrant on one hand and on the other say 'But if they are here, lets make sure we make their lives as easy as possible.' People aren't stupid enough to believe it. Plus, the reason Hillary is getting so much flake for it isn't just the position she took – others took the same one – it's that the flip-flopped on stage about it. No to any candidate that takes lobbyist money.

    November 4, 2007 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  23. Cheryl Ohio

    "Jolliffe was pointing out that drivers who can have licenses are more likely to have insurance."

    WRONG! In states that have previously tried this, the opposite has occurred and there is not a shred of evidence to support this line of thought.
    Dricing IS a Privilege and does nothing to protect other drivers.
    What is does is to legitimize illegals, and does nothing to prompt the government to crack down on lawbreaking illegals.
    In case studies, illegals who were required to have insurance to get drivers licenses, soon dropped their insurance after obtaining the license, or did not renew it, but continued to drive.

    November 4, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  24. Mike, Youngstown, OH

    Please, spare me. How far will the Clinton campaign stoop to promote her candidacy? Planting a couple of nutcases in the audience is as old as dirt. Anyone but this phony, Clinton, please!

    November 4, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  25. Bob Gardinor Highland, New York

    Again this is stupid. These people are illegal, thats why they are not documentated.
    The last time I looked in the dictionary illegal meant prohibited by law. Is government changing the meaning of this word? Does it mean now that anything that was illegal is ok?

    This absurd. If they are breaking the law, which illegal means, how come they don't get arrested?

    November 4, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
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