November 14th, 2007
11:45 AM ET
4 years ago

N.Y. governor abandons driver's licenses for illegal immigrants

New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer explains why he dropped his license plan for illegal immigrants.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said Wednesday he is giving up his proposal to grant driver's licenses to undocumented workers, a plan he said would "improve the safety and security of the people of my state."

Spitzer said he was giving up because he had concluded that "New York state cannot successfully address this problem on its own."

He said he wanted to act because of the failure of the federal government to deal with immigration policy and the impact that failure was having on New York.

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Filed under: Eliot Spitzer
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Ryan, New York, NY

    Spitzer is giving up only because of Hillary' congressional failure at giving illegals immunity. When is this pitiful 110th Congress going to improve the safety and security of the American people by enforcing our current immigration laws?

    Is there any doubt that Hillary still thinks giving driver licenses to illegals is "a good idea"??
    Posted By therealist : November 14, 2007 1:38 pm

    Wait, you're complaining that in 1 year, the 110th Congress can't fix this problem. Which party that you idolize controlled Congress since the mid 90s and didn't do anything to deal with it? Why couldn't they get around to fixing the problem during that huge timespan? It sure wasn't because Bush was going to veto any bills in his first 6 years.

    You're right, nothing's happened on this issue with the 110th, but how about some perspective instead of just your partisan attacks that blindly ignore the faults of your party. I love how they've screwed up so much and now complain that it's not being fixed fast enough.

    November 14, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Tim , Seattle

    Politicians like Spitzer and Hillary are the PROBLEM. Anything to get votes and only after the polls say it's a bad move do they change positions.

    Really...
    Hmmm.....so if a politician has the guts to float an unpopular proposal, hears that the public is against it and then concedes to that reality, then I call that listening to the will of the people.
    Funny, you are against the idea, but when the sponsor of the idea sees that the people dont want it and backs off that is a bad thing? You got what you wanted. The majority view, in the end, prevailed. So what is the problem?

    AT least Spitzer is listening to the will of the people (be it by polls or press or bloggers or constituents calling in)

    Unlike our president, who is on the wrong side of the people's will (and overwhelmingly so) on issues from SCHIP to Water Projects to the War in Iraq to Energy Policy to Global Warming being junk science .
    You stand behind him and say he is doing the right thing, yet the will of the people says otherwise. How pray tell, do you square that incongruence?

    November 14, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Pit ironik Denver Colorado

    what an idea?

    November 14, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Pit ironik Denver Colorado

    Poor governor. You must have had fire from the Clintons. But the funny question is, what is Clinton going to say now that the plan is removed?

    November 14, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Lloyd C., Davenport, IA

    Kalvin from MS writes:

    "Spitzer, like Hillary, is simply a political animal. He created a "name" for himself by targeting large financial institutions (mutual fund companies)...."

    If Spitzer and Hillary are political animals, then according to your theory all other republican candidates are like "social workers" who are contesting this election as a service to their fellow americans. Its all ballony! Everyone including Bush, Cheney, Guliani, and Obama, Edwards, one and all play politics. Without that one can't survive. Those who are weak and don't play the games, phase out (swift boated) like Kerry. By agreeing Spitzer, Hillary was not going to be benefitted anyway as illegals can't vote and it was a huge gamble for her weigh hispanic votes vs White votes. Not all the times your positions are accurate and not a single candidate is perfect. Those who follow Bush can't succeed anyway. For the rest, let the people decide who will be best for the country, and go on!

    November 14, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Why would an ILLEGAL immigrant bother to get an ID? He already has no respect for our laws.

    Why would an ILLEGAL immigrant who did take the driver's test and failed stop driving? He already has no respect for our laws?

    They don't need a license here, insurance or anything else in CA.

    No license, no problem!
    No insurance, no problem!
    No registration, no problem!
    No ID, no problem!

    It have not stopped them one bit from being on the road.

    November 14, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Chris, Palm Bay, FL

    This is all Bush's fault! It makes no sense that a governor would propose such a monumentally stupid idea. It's even crazier that a senator who wants to be presiden would support that same stupid idea. None of this makes sense, which is why I blame Bush. I also blame Cheney and Rove!

    November 14, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Linda - Albany, NY

    I'm certainly glad to see Spitzer pull this one out! I participated in the Albany protest and for a while, it didn't look like Spitzer was listening, nor did he care. It's about time he came to his senses. If you want to make change, one has to go about it legally – not by ignoring the laws already in place and making your own as you see fit.

    November 14, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Dazed and Confused in DC

    So, we now have Sen. Obama unqualifiedly supporting the New York Governor's plan to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses–a plan even the Governor of New York has now rejected. And Hillary Clinton's debate response–that she supported the Governor's efforts to address the failure of the feds to deal with immigration, but not the plan to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses–looks prescient. It's the difference between experience and thoughtfulness, on the one hand, and simplistic responses to complex problems, on the other.

    So, Sen. Obama–on the all important electability issue: how can you beat any republican if you support drivers' licenses for illegals? Answer: you can't.

    November 14, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Kalvin Tupelo, Miss

    Tim – Seattle writes,

    "Hmmm…..so if a politician has the guts to float an unpopular proposal, hears that the public is against it and then concedes to that reality, then I call that listening to the will of the people."

    .

    I can see how after 8 years of Poll-watching under the Clinton administration you feel a President that actually COMMITS to a decision because he firmly believes it is the RIGHT thing even if unpopular is somehow horrible.

    Thank god you weren't alive to assail President Lincoln when his popularity was tanking because of the Civil War.

    And you would have APPLAUDED Arkansas Govenor Orval Faubus who (by public support) refused to comply with Brown V Board and allow black students attend white high schools??

    Sometimes, Tim. Doing the RIGHT thing involves understanding the fundamental issues and having the belief and resolve to see it through. Why the hell do we even NEED Congress if every decision is made from poll watching?

    Spitzer and Hillary simply float ideas until they find a popular one – and then hold on tight!

    Worthless.

    November 14, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    The employers have gotten off for now. I think we know what areas of our state they're located in after all this. The public outrage will force huge penalties on them and put them under more pressure than ever. How about a fine equal to their usage of public health facilities for their illegal employees?

    November 14, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. OBAMA 2008, KENTUCKY

    WOW! this make's Newyork the state look like idot's first there senator is doing all this fake stuff anf no there govn. is being just flat out stupid hmmmmmmmmmm............. This has to say something about the state of Newyork!! Maybe we shouldn't ask Newyork what they think anymore. Look at they have created 2 political monster ready to destory America at anytime.

    November 14, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Terry, El Paso ~ How dare you use common sense, logistics and reality to support your comments!!!

    Tim , Seattle ~ To answer your question, because Rush and Rupert says so!!!

    November 14, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    The illegal driver's license idea was a really stupid idea, no wonder the Gov. put it on the scrap heap of dumb ideas so fast.
    Here's another one – Maybe the next bright idea should be to issue concealed weapons permits to terrorists so we can track 'em! Wadda think Gov.?

    November 14, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Richard, St. Paul, Mn

    What a moronic idea it is to give licences, rights or benefits to these ILLEGAL CRIMINALS! These people don't have the honor or moral beliefs to become Americans; they just want to sneak in, set up their tribal communities and abuse the hospitality of the Ameican people. If they can't come here through the proper channels, then they don't belong!

    November 14, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. AJ, IL

    So, we now have Sen. Obama unqualifiedly supporting the New York Governor's plan to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses–a plan even the Governor of New York has now rejected. And Hillary Clinton's debate response–that she supported the Governor's efforts to address the failure of the feds to deal with immigration, but not the plan to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses–looks prescient. It's the difference between experience and thoughtfulness, on the one hand, and simplistic responses to complex problems, on the other.

    So, Sen. Obama–on the all important electability issue: how can you beat any republican if you support drivers' licenses for illegals? Answer: you can't.

    Posted By Dazed and Confused in DC : November 14, 2007 4:38 pm

    I MAY NOT AGREE WITH OBAMA STANCE ON SPITZER'S PROPOSAL FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO HAVE A SPECIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE, BUT AT LEAST HE WAS COURAGEOUS AND HONEST ENOUGH TO STATE HIS OPINION AND STICK TO IT. YOU ARE WRONG ABOUT HILLARY'S RESPONSE. AT THE PHILADELPHIA DEBATE ON OCT. 30 HILLARY GAVE A MUDDLED AND CONVOLUTED ANSWER AND LIED ABOUT SUPPORTING SPITZER' PROPOSAL. THEN 4 DAYS AFTER THE DEBATE SHE CLAIMED THAT SHE SUPPORTED SPITZER'S PROPOSAL. NOW SHE STATING SHE AGREES WITH SPITZER IN NOT GIVING NY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS LICENSES. HILLARY IS AMAZING! SHE HOLDS HER FINGER IN THE POLITICAL WIND TO GAUGE HER CONVICTIONS AND STANCES?! SHE IS DEFINITELY NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE US. SOUNDS LIKE SHE NEEDS TO WORK ON THE ISSUES IN NEW YORK FIRST FOR ANOTHER 8 YEARS.

    Obama in '08!

    November 14, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. steve Loudon, TN

    He got the call from Bill and Hillary to knock it off. It was a horrible idea and an obvious way to pander for illegal votes, but the public saw through it immediately, as did 72% of New Yorkers...

    November 14, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. steve Loudon, TN

    Tim in Seattle, the President isn't on the wrong side of SCHIP, he just doesn't think that providing government assistance to ADULTS at 300% above the poverty line is what SCHIP is supposed to be about. Nor does the public overwhelmingly want us out of Iraq, they do want us to do a better job there (and the Dems withholding funding of our soldiers, who ARE AT WAR, for political reasons demonstrates their aversion to victory), and Global warming is far from being proved to be mancaused (why did they call Greenland, Greenland?)and the Anarctic Ice Shelf is Growing, not melting, and why exempt countries like India, China, etc. from the same standards that the US would have imposed on it. The new world order? Bush and Fox are also partners in crime by encouraging illegal immigrants to enter our country. Fox even envisioned a currency called the Amero. We don't have real choices, we have the same party with different extremes, both ignoring the will of the American people in favor of their own gain in power and fortune. They disgust me, and quislings on both sides are bountiful.Washington State was the entry point of the potential bomber of LAX as you recall. Only an alert customs agent detected the explosives. We should demand enforcement of current laws, nothing less...and fire those who try to sneak in the Dream laws in the middle of the night, just like their pay raises. Enough is enough.

    November 14, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. James, Phoenix AZ

    DAVE – NY

    You wrote, "Documenting the illegal immigrants already here is a *good* idea, not matter how you slice it. Good for security, and good for our economy, and also *ethically* a good idea.

    Spitzer has a lot of integrity and he has the courage to stand up for what is in our best interests whether or not its popular. Just look at the things he did (and the enemies he made) while DA. "

    --

    Know what would be a GREAT idea? Inforce the Immigration Laws ALREADY on the books!

    Just imagine..... no illegals driving around, no taxpayer-funded emergency medical services for illegals, no politicians playing political football suggesting amnesty...

    I guess we all have a dream! Too bad more politicians don't have the courage to do what is RIGHT.

    November 14, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Laura - Tulsa OK

    Mark in Shreveport , my sentiments exactly ;

    When you have begun your "new life" in a country that has already allowed you to BREAK A FEDERAL LAW, then what's the big deal with breaking a few other "smaller" laws . If you get away with one infraction, you most likely will try to get away with whatever will help you survive/improve your situation.

    Im not accusing all illegal immigrants of anything specific , but it's human nature to return to the behavior that has gotten you results.

    November 14, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  21. chic, amherst ny

    wonder if this entire Spitzer scheme was an attempt to get the illegal immigrants to begin coming out of the shadows. If it was a roundabout way to begin to slowly give legitimacy to undocumented workers. To usurp the federal depts, who are supposed to be doing something such as this, to be getting illegals to declare themselves.

    Nah– it was just to get them on the voting rolls.

    November 14, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  22. Raymond, El Paso TX

    Kalvin Tupelo, Miss ~ Right or wrong even Lincoln and Faubus limited their decision to their area of governance, they did not try to impose their will on the rest of the world.

    You are also making a huge assumption that Bush is "RIGHT", which he was going to Afghanistan and everyone was behind him. However, he couldn't even finish the job there.

    By the way, if you don't understand the Constitution you won't understand why we need a Congress and why WE THE PEOPLE, yes including you, not only have the right, but the responsibility, to voice our opinion to OUR government.

    November 15, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  23. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    Spitzer just blew his chances to ever become President.
    Imagine a president who after facing UNBELIEVABLE levels of disapproval and complaint, reverses a decision!

    And an extra special note for Hillary,,,,Next time you are hit with a question that pits your loyalty to lobbyists and power brokers against what is right and what the voters want, REPRESENT THE VOTERS and put your political ambitions on the back burner. At least that way you'll be the losing candidate with integrity and a smidgeon of self respect.

    November 15, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Kalvin Tupelo, Miss

    "Right or wrong even Lincoln and Faubus limited their decision to their area of governance, they did not try to impose their will on the rest of the world."

    Posted By Raymond, El Paso TX

    --

    Ray – how is Bush imposing HIS will on the rest of the world?

    Going after the Taliban/Bin Laden in Afghanistan? Everyone thinks THAT was the right decision.

    Removing Saddam Hussein? A significant MAJORITY of Congress (including Democrats) approved Bush's request to use military force.

    Please tell me how President Bush (alone) is imposing his will on the rest of the world?

    November 15, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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