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. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    I hate to tell you,but they already get a path to citizenship in the military.

    November 4, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Former Rightie, Pittsburgh

    For those of you who want to send all illegals back, please go to your fridge and pitch all fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, etc... Take your own cleaning supplies to the next hotel you stay at and find transportation on a business trip other than a taxi. The illegals you want to send back do these jobs that Americans view as beneath them. You can't live with them and you can't live without them. We need to recognize the reality that these people provide a necessary labor pool in US. Finding a way for them to be accounted for and pay taxes makes more sense than cleaning the toilet yourself every time you travel.

    As much as I think Bush is the worse President ever (I'm entitled to this opinion having voted for him 2x), his connections to big business are right on this topic. The farming and servicing industry would crash without this labor pool.

    November 4, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Gary, Detroit, Mich.


    That's a crock. Not all Americans view these jobs as beneath them. What they view beneath them is working for 50 cents or a dollar an hour which is what many of the illegals will work for. It is they who have driven the wages so low. Many of them are paid cash with no taxes withheld. I for one would rather pay a little more for that head of lettuce if that meant more employment for REAL citizens, more cops on the streets and less vacant homes in my neighborhood.

    November 4, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. Sarah

    And she still avoided the question!

    November 4, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    RT 52 avenger-I'm still waiting. I've been here all day. Coward!

    November 4, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Robbie, La Mesa, CA

    Amen, Gary! Former Rightie is full of it. Our economy was robust and strong well before illegals arrived. According to a recent university study, illegals cost the citizens of San Diego County $100 million a year. Yes, I'll gladly pay more for fresh produce and housekeeping services, thank you.

    November 4, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. James, Minneapolis, MN

    If required to provide proof of insurance to receive a driver’s license, Illegals will simply provide forged documents showing they have insurance which of course they won’t have. This will continue putting legal citizens at risk both personally and financially while giving the Illegals better access to benefits and a backdoor path towards citizenship. The person who wants to be the next president should be informing the legal citizens about how they intend improve things in this country, not pandering the Illegals in order to get some extra votes just to get elected into office.

    November 4, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Me, Fullerton, CA

    Former rightie,

    The Americans have been living for long without even you the illegal immigrants are here. Did we die or collapse because there were no you the illegal immigrants? Absolutely not!

    You guys the illegal immigrants contribute nothing but pains! If you compare what you have contributed versus what you have taken from this nation, which one will be bigger? Of course what you have taken from this country is much much bigger than what you have given. Let me name some: healthcare expenses, crimes, taxes, traffic accidents, reserve due to outgoing money to your country, childcare expenses, nurseries, and many many more. You guys the illegal immigrants just like wild seed in our green grass. That wild seeds are better be removed and burned if the green grass wants to survive.

    November 4, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Wynter

    I have to agree with Clinton on this one. It's easy to look at it and scream "No Way!", but when you look at things in more detail you see that it's not all Black and White.

    The situation she is bringing up is that we have millions of undocumented workers in our country. Note that I said "workers". If we had an immigration system that worked then we wouldn't have any undocumented people in this country. But of course that isn't the case today. So do we turn everyone of these "workers" on the streets and out of work all at once? Talk about chaos. That would case a human disaster of epic proportions in each state in the union.

    We need functional ways of handling these extraordinary problems that the federal government has put on our states. And I have to say, they are at least trying to work something out instead of pulling the plug on millions of people that need to drive to work to live.


    Telling it like I see it,

    November 4, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Raman, Plano TX

    - Elizabeth, Bartlett, TN
    - Jed in Texas

    I think both of you have right concerns about fraudulent use of Driver's License for purpose of providing voting rights to foreigners.

    A little known fact about how a new technology is introduced in security sensitive processes of a country. A new technology is provided to countries whose leadership is ignorant about the risks of new technology or to group of users in US who are not really concerned about the security issue (Recall bionic security introduced in a primary school in a City of Colorado). Once the technology has enough users outside US, then those numbers are used to convince US leadership to use new technology.

    A case in point, as Jed mention about the General ID. This General ID has been introduced in India by technology freaks who are least concerned about the security or social impact of the viral technologies. The result – recently when I visited my native country India, I discovered to my horror that my ID card had a name of Ravi Raman Kumar (my legal name is Raman Vig). When I reported to the concerned authorities in India, they refused to acknowledge the mistake and instead gave an explanation that their system may have been hacked by some miscreants. In absence of paper trail, I could have lost my identity in India.

    The fallout of using voting machines/IDs without paper trail, could be that one day Americans wake to see a new flash (for some who do not know news flash is automatically shown on screen by computers) that Osama Bin Laden won Presidential General Elections, or Pervez Musharraf won a general election in India.

    When I hear statements from leaders such as Sen. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Spitzer or President Bush about using an untested new technology in zeal and sportmanship spirit, I am surprised by the fact that our leadership is so ignorant to the dangers of calamity that can be caused by a hack or some crooked system professional.

    Already we can see that now-a-days you have to carry insurance to protect yourself from identity theft such as fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, just because some brilliant hackers in good old day thought that people were honest and could be trusted to not misuse Social Security Numbers.

    November 4, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. Karen,ny

    ED, Ellenville..I bet you do have a house. I've been in Ellenville and it is so run down that even Burger King left.

    November 4, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Walter, San Diego, CA

    Illegals should not be here (illegally) period, license/no license. Justifications in political context to undermine a rule of law are unacceptable. Period.

    Does anyone have a backbone anymore?

    November 4, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. joy

    Obama is for it he said i agree with senator clinton for not answering yes or no he agreed with her at the debate.

    Many of the questions Senator Clinton is being critisized about for not answering yes or no, are questions that no one CAN honestly give a yes or a no answer to. Many things aren't black or white, like the drivers licenses to illegals. Certainly they shouldn't be given licenses because they are a privilege, but on the other hand, it would be a way to identify them. She is right on with her answers, and is intelligent enough, and responsible enough, to know there is more than one side to many of the problems she will face when she becomes president. Rather than just saying something to satisfy someone who in many cases isn't intelligent enough to understand what they are asking, she is being as honest as she knows how, on these difficult questions.
    Hillary for president!! We need her.
    Its a big problem to solve.

    November 4, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. Colin742

    Most commentators here are saying Hillary's answer to this question was wrong.
    May I remind you that the six male canditates were asked if they agreed with her. Five of them agreed with her.
    Why are you complaining just abot Hillary. Is it possible that these six knowledeable polititios are right and the one who disagreed and YOU are wrong

    November 4, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. Karen,ny

    Well Hillary is on her way down. She can not have her cake and eat it too. I have to admit that I would be doing a disservice to my country if I was to vote for her. But, I do love my Democrats so I will still vote for a Democrat.

    November 4, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. Karen,ny

    I feel that we should sent the illegal immigrants back to Mexico and put up the wall as soon as possible. We can use the national guard in towers to watch the borders day and night. This seems to be the only solution. We can start with the Mexican gangs and go from there.

    November 4, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. TRM

    These supposed "victims" are plants... I wonder how much Hillary paid them...

    November 4, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. William

    And the Academy Award goooooooooooos to Jolliffe in "BOO-HOO Politcs, boy did I screw the pooch" long name but excellent film, playing right now in our political arena. Are Clinton supporters that dumb?? I mean really they have got to be the ONLY ones that would believe that.

    You have to admit though it was pretty hilarious to think that someone would actually believe that. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    November 4, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Will, Norfolk VA

    I would vote for a ham sandwhich dipped in feces instead of Hillary.

    November 4, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. Dade City

    A move right out of the Carl Rove playbook, place shills in the audience to support a candidates position.

    Did any reporter ask if the Clinton campaign made contact with them before they showed up at the public function?

    November 4, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  21. wes, indiana

    it's quite evident the way that people feel about this issue, this no-brainer. if an illegal becomes documented they have in turn come out from the shadows. maybe this whole thing is a ploy to find our oh so terrible and dangerous illegals and send them packing. i think that they are a little too clever to get caught on account of this driver's license. how do we think they ended up here in the first place? sprung up from the ground? accidentally took the wrong bus?

    November 4, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  22. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Karen-Burger king left and we were happy to see it go. Death merchant. I have a multi-million dollar estate that was once a hotel,not just a house. (I wouldn't recommend downtown Ellenville for eating out,except the new tex-mex place.) My point in speaking out about this is that even the well off are getting screwed by the stupidity of the federal government. I have no doubt that dropping the SSA from the ID business would turn the majority of "undocumented americans" back into citizens and spotlight the illegals for actions against their illegal employers. That is the idea behind Spitzer's plan. I have a ridiculous amount of documentation that no longer counts at SSA. Why should legal citizens be turned into "illegals?" I have to assume that people like you that fear these illegals are being suckered into denying the voting rights of millions of legal citizens by clumping all "undocumented" citizens with illegal immigrants. I think that fingerprinting would solve this problem by ensuring the identity of all americans. You can buy a laptop with a fingerprint reader. Wouldn't it make sense that we use this technology to solve this issue? This whole "card" issue is silly. I'm being jerked around over a piece of cardboard that I had in my wallet when I was 14. Since when is this silly cardboard card worth more than the twelve pages of documents that worked before? Please join me and our state in creating a solution that doesn't rely on the corrupt SSA.

    November 4, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. Former Rightie, Pittsburgh

    Hello – reality check ! They are here because they can get jobs. Jobs that Americans will not do, or else the jobs would not exist for them. For those of you willing to pay more for a head of lettuce, you'll get your chance as gas hits over $3/gallon and it's more expensive to get to you.

    I like the comment about the National Guard watching the so called fence the Republican congress approved and never built. That would mean we would have to bring them home from W's oil war and Cheney's Big Business buddies would be oh so disappointed.

    Let's get these people (yes, they are God's creation for those of you on high moral ground) legitimate and paying for all those expenses they are consuming (health care, etc...)

    Like I said, you can't live with them and you can't live without them. You might as well make it work instead of fighting it.

    Anyone who thinks we can round all these people up and send them back just has their head in the sand.

    November 4, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  24. Travis Nashville, TN

    How bout instead of giving them licenses we kick them out of OUR country and they won't hit anybody? She says "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."Solve it by doing the right thing and sending them to their country. Calling and illegal immigrant an undocumented worker is like calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist.

    November 4, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  25. Gladys, Pembroke Pines, Florida

    As a woman, I depise this woman. She is a WIMP. Please say NO to Hillary, Don't vote for her. She is not good for our country.
    Obama/Edward 2008!

    November 4, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
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