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. Anonymous, Yorktown, VA

    Thanks "RC" from Roanoke, VA, is agree with you. I distrust the Clintons so much, my first thought was there must have been "plants" in the audience. It's a shame that I, and others, are so cynical of the Clintons to be always suspicious of their motives. I can not think of more phony, disengenuous politicians today.

    November 4, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. al, San Francisco, CA

    Based on CNN's news clip at least, it is shameful that obama and edwards did not express their position, other than criticing hillary for her position. As ususal, they are monday nite quarterback, taking no action, and complaining afterwards taking an opposite side of every argument. Any fools and complain and condemn. That stems from their inexperioence and indecisiveness.

    Yeah, obama is the most absentee senator of the presidential rate. While many other presidenttial candidates could attend the votes, I just fail to understand obama's excuse. As many other senators were notified about the votes at the same time, you guys can find any lame excuse for him. The truth is that Obama has recently missed 80% of all senate votes.

    The american voters should not let this lazy (yes lazy at home at least per michelle obama) and inexperienced senator to be the next president.

    Life is not just black and white, and there are grey areas that cannot be answered with a yes or no, including the license issue for illegals. There are always two sides of every coin. Only simple people want a simple answer. The issue of licensing isnt simple and hillary is experienced enough to say what she said.

    November 4, 2007 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Sue, Louisville, CO

    What are you all talking about? Here in Colorado illegals have a car insurance plan – if there is an accident they get out of their cars and run away.

    Giving illegals a driver license is just a way to allow them to vote and it's shameful that our politicians are allowing this and actually trying to implement it. Don't just whine about it – call your congressmen and all the presidential candidates and tell them how you feel.

    November 4, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. Steve - Austin, TX

    Something needs to change here...I have also been hit by an illegal alien...who then left the vehicle and fled on foot after the accident. Didn't even stop to see if I or my then pregnant wife were ok.

    I'm not sure if it's providing drivers licenses or what, but the system right now is wrong. My insurance paid for the accident...which was unfair for them and for me. I get higher premiums as a result.

    The problem right now is – illegals are here, and with the current system there's an incentive to commit additional crimes to not get caught for being here...this needs to change. There needs to be some sort of resident work status or something to get this sorted out

    November 4, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  5. Hank, Fort Myers, FL

    We must stop the flood of illegals coming into the country first. This thread is ridiculous. Drivers licenses are a moot point–people here illegally won't get one anyway–does anyone really believe that illegal aliens will line up to have their photos and addresses on a dbase for the government to come and pick them up? Go ahead..pass the legislation–the few knuckleheads who actually show up at the DMV will have minimal impact to NY state funs–or improving overall highway safety. The only possible gain in this plan is political. Sounds like something the Bush Administration would have created–illogical, minimal real impact for improving the lives of average Americans, probably unfunded.

    November 4, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  6. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Perhaps some of you watched the Desperate Housewives episode in which Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) had an affair with a neighborhood teenager who did yard work for her. She became pregnant but didn't know whether the teenager or her husband was the father.

    The USA has been having an affair with Mexico for more than a century. America is now pregnant with the results of the affair: 13 million (or more) illegal immigrants. Mexican workers in large numbers were used to lay track for the railroads after the Civil War. Since then, we have routinely imported cheap labor by the hundreds of thousands, then millions, to work in construction, the garment industry, factories, and agriculture. In the southwest, access to a cheap illegal Mexican maid and yard man have been considered a civil right for a hundred years. I speculate that a majority of Southwesterners who oppose illegal immigration will have a Mexican maid cleaning their houses, cooking their food, and caring for their children tomorrow. They have employed her for years and will continue to do so, all the while opposing illegal immigration.

    Anyone who has read a history book during the last century could have predicted that this growing problem would eventually reach a crisis point. Our leaders did not look ahead for the long term consequences but looked instead at this month's profits. The voters (you and me) who kept them in office enjoyed cheap prices, so we chose not to solve the problem in years past when it could have been solved.

    Having lived and worked alongside illegal immigrants all our lives, we now pretend to be shocked that they exist. They picked the lettuce and tomatos that will be on your hamburger at lunch tomorrow. They built your house. They are cleaning your child's school. They work in your day care center. They are driving the car in the freeway lane next to yours. They will put linens on your bed and scramble your eggs the next time you stay in a hotel. Their children are American citizens.

    To deport these people, we would have to suspend the Constitution for a while, in imitation of our ally Pakistan, so that our police can kick in the doors to any home in America in a warrantless search for them. It would take a decade or two to round them all up. Then we could pack them sixty to a box car in 225,000 box cars, nail the doors shut with five million nails, and ship them to Laredo, El Paso, and San Diego for deportation (assuming that Mexico agrees to accept them, which I doubt). Costs would be enormous. In addition to the taxes needed to support an extra million Bureau of Immigration employees, detention camps to house and feed millions of prisoners, and Justice Department employees to handle 13 million court cases, we would have to hire expensive American employees to replace them in our schools, street departments, day care centers, factories, and fields. The cost of housing, food, education, day care, and government would skyrocket. During this process, millions of them would be streaming back across our borders to resume their lives and jobs here.

    In short, we really enjoyed our affair with Mexico but we got pregnant. We even tried to ignore the pregnancy, but now the labor pains have started. It is too late for a cultural abortion. We're going to have to raise our baby.

    November 4, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  7. Jason, Washington DC

    This sounds so staged!

    November 4, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. Karen,ny

    We have had a bellyfull of this Elliot Spitzer and this giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. This just makes me furious, it is unbelievable how Hillary can pander to such nonsense. I will not except this at all. Not a citizen-no license!!! I am sorry Hillary, but I do not agree with you on this one.

    November 4, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. Widget, Camden NJ

    This is not really an issue about what is sensible to do about the obvious things relating to illegal aliens such as costs to state and federal infrastructure, homeland security, employers who victimize both fellow citizens and illegals or any of that. The logical answer to the license thing is again obvious, it's for citizens or temporary visiting (or green carded) foreigners. Also obvious is what is likely to occur if licenses are given inappropriately to people who illegally entered the country, typically break safe housing laws AND DMV laws, overload vehicles and housing, take advantage of any handout in medical or schooling or welfare they can and all the while sending money back to Mother Mexico while pretending to be Warriors retaking land which is actually theirs to begin with.

    No, all of that is secondary.

    Primary is the recognition of the Rule of the Constitution which says that Anchor Babies are not Citizens. And the heartbreaking (Oooh!) cases of good students who get nice houses and begin 2rd generation ILLEGAL households who whine about being 'restricted' because of 'undocumented status' who risk deportation.

    Well, America is the Home of the Free...Citizens ARE free to starve if they blow it by the rules, breaking the rules is just that. Changing rules to suit illegality is not the Rule of Law, especially when those Rules are challenged by non-Citizens.

    Again, the license thing is obvious. A 'minor detail' that suggests just how obviously wrong it is, is the part about NOT having to submit a SS#, and also about the ability to REGISTER TO VOTE JUST LIKE A REAL CITIZEN on the very same form.

    But that's secondary. Primary, and messier, is the clear thought of what to do with the results of illegal activity in this country by aliens, those born here who still do not qualify as Citizens by the Constitution.

    Chew THAT one up and swallow it, if you can. Illegal is Illegal until somebody revises the Dictionary. Perhaps in Spanish it says something different?

    November 4, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. DEF, Norfolk Virginia

    I believe Obama, and Edwards, have her number. She will not stand firm, and she's telling all of us that now. What isn't "firm" will remain so, as a result of "Hillary" (a by – product of "Slick Willy"). The same way she would "lead" ??? I don't think so.., actually.., (based on her track record) I am sure.

    November 4, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  11. Danielle Flower, Portland, Oregon

    I, too was hit by an illegal driver. I was turning into the law school for my last class of my first semester. I was going 5 mph – he was going 69 mph. I spent 4 months in the hospital. I suffered a brain injury. My insurance company was not willing to pay my uninsured motorist coverage for over a year, until they got a letter from a lawyer (I had a few resources in that department). I feel worse for the other driver. I'd love to get him a message that I'm okay, but I am reapplying to law school and working full-time so not now. He was 19. My guess is that if we'd allow them to obtain insurance they would be more prudent about it than we are.

    November 4, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  12. RD

    Too those who say Clinton was trying to be honest and is facing the needs of this country to Give Illegal Drivers license so they will have insurance. An immigrant should be required to come into this country legally. Have a workers Id, Pay Taxes, Speak ENGLISH. and abide by the law. Most can't speak ENGlish and don't have a clue what the LAW really is. If they are illegal they should be deported. If they come legally give them a tempory drivers license if they Can pass a drivers test. Which would require them to speak and read English so they could read the traffic signs. I am not against people from other countries coming here to work but that should not give them a right to recieve special benifits that the full blooded americans can't even get. No tax cut for starting a business for being a minority. No right to VOTE. And NO permanant Residence IN THIS Country. only TEMPORARY Work permits We Can not help that they have it Bad in there own country. I Do dissagree with president Bush's amnesty plan on immigration. But President Bush did have a plan that was awesome Before he had to devote his whole presidency to protecting this country After 9-11. Before 9-11 he was meeting with the Mexican Goverment to try to raise their minimum wage, Make things better in Mexico. People in mexico that come to this country are just trying to make a living for their families. What a great ideal you raise their minimum wage there will be no need to come to the US to work. and Guess what you raise their minimum wage american companies that send work to mexico because they can get it done cheaper will leave the work in the USA because they can't get cheap labor. What an Ideal. If clinton HAd a clue she might get my vote. Don't forget she also is in favor of giving illegal aliens health care for free. ONLY IN USA.

    November 4, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Rt 52 avenger- Come by my estate and I'll explain it too you. I'll show you why your nazi tactics won't work. I doubt you have the guts to face me because you don't even leave your name,coward. I have twelve pages of documentation to prove I'm a citizen. None of them are accepted by SSA because it's a corrupted republican political machine now. If you know me then come and face me.

    November 4, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Brian Tampa

    "The federal government has failed"

    Your husband was President for 8 years and you are a US Senator, doesn't that mean you have failed. Hillary wants as many illegals as possible, it means more votes for her.

    November 4, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. bob

    does anyone know where clinton stands on any issue..? she's against the war but for it..? her deceitful past will come back to haunt her, and her present technique of dodging every important issue will soon annoy and alienate every intelligent voter out there... anybody but clinton..!

    November 4, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |

    Oh, according to some people we should give the illegals licenses, voting, citizenship and why not just move out of our dwellings so that the illegals can have them to. We can all move down to Mexico and let them have our country.

    November 4, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. MC - Atlanta, GA

    As much as people on the right will hate to admit it – she's right. A drivers license means a paper trail, means identifying these illegals.

    People on the right always act on emotinon and oppose things like this, and gay marriage, flag burning, etc without thinking about the issues at a deeper level. Perfect example right here.

    November 4, 2007 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. Loren, Reno, Nevada

    This story is CNN slanted for sure. Living in Nevada, a state full of illegals, a license can be obtained without insurance by anyone, and even if they do obtain a policy to get their vehicle registration, they cancel it immediately after they get the plates and then ignore letters to surrender their plates.

    Deport illegals, don't pander them.

    November 4, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. Rick, North Carolina

    Why should these lawless people be given a license to drive, they are already liars and theives of our system. If they are willing to sneak across our borders, then what makes you think they will follow the laws of the land anyhow?
    The source of the problem – business people that hire them, they have the support of our goverment. The politicians are only puppets of business and do not work for the citizens.
    I wish this country had a third political party that worked for the people only, they would get my support and vote. Am I the only one that gets tired of seeing politicans playing games with our lives?

    November 4, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  20. Chris Orlando, FL

    Excellent...the end of the Billary campaign has begun.

    She better come up with more handouts for you Libs to beg for.

    November 4, 2007 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  21. Karen,ny

    Jerry Weed..Just remember this: If you vote for a Republican you are voting for..war, econonmy collapse,high gas prices,poison eveything from China, and the list is endless!

    November 4, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. Mike, Houston, TX

    Mrs. Clinton is so out of touch that she thinks that a drivers licenses are a federal problem. During a Mrs. Clinton adminisration, we will see an even larger expansion of federal power over the citizens and states. Drivers license a "federal failure"? Beware America, Mrs. Clinton will institute a national identification card. She will defend it to support socialized medical services (hello Cuba), homeland security (hello Myanmar), and to more easily track down her "enemies". Expect increased "vigilence" from the IRS, etc. This woman is just awful.

    November 4, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  23. Michael, Houston, TX

    Hillary is one of the most intelligent candidates out there, but she has no character. Having lived overseas and seen firsthand what happens when an elected official has intelligence but no character, I can say that character is much more important than intelligence.

    Hillary is without character.

    November 4, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  24. Laura, Raleigh, NC

    total plant job
    no reasonable person would come to that conclusion about this issue

    so it would be better if they had driver's licenses because they would have car insurance? (which most of us buy because we'll probably never need it) now they can reckless drive and drive up insurance costs– great plan

    November 4, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. Barbara Doyle

    Hey! Nick from Eden Prairie. Where did you get the idea that drivers' licenses are free? You have to PASS A TEST in order to get one and pay for it. This would help to get self-taught drivers off the streets and into a com- puter system. Also remember that as long as we are talking about something as obviously sensible as this we are NOT talking about the totally non-sensible war in Iraq

    November 4, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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