November 20th, 2007
09:48 AM ET
12 years ago

Commentary: Foes run over sensible N.Y. license plan

Ruben Navarette, Jr: Some in denial over immigration issues.

SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) - Score one for the knee-jerk naysayers. You know the type: those who find it easier to criticize proposed solutions to tough problems than to propose solutions of their own, which then could be criticized.

Faced with the problem of what to do with thousands of illegal immigrants who drive on state roadways every day to go to work for people who insist with a straight face that they want nothing to do with illegal immigrants, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed a controversial, yet terribly sensible, plan to give the undocumented a state-issued driver's license that would be easily discernible from licenses carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The plan hit roadblocks with the extremes, on the right and the left - which is always a good sign. But the criticism kept mounting. And now Spitzer has put the brakes on the plan after a brief but intense debate.

Correction. It wasn't really a debate. It was the rhetorical equivalent of a food fight in which pragmatism and common sense took a back seat to name-calling, fear-mongering and misrepresentation of fact - with a dash of racism.


Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Chris Troy

    And driving that bus would be a good job for Ruben. Do you suppose he needs a chauffeur's license for that? Maybe they'll give him one in Mexico.

    November 20, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Darrel Lone Rock Iowa

    Must have made cnn mad!!
    They did not post My Thought Anyway
    Ruben/ I have a daughter that was hit buy a drunk mexican with no liscense/no
    insurance/ no green card/ no brains.
    Two people died in the crash/ My daughter lived but has injury she will have for life. So if you think I want amesty for illegal alliens/ or special card / or social security/ or anything you can think again/ We have laws and if we would enforce the one we have on the books that our num congress and president just can't seem to get the job done?? Well CNN probably won't post this thought either. If our elected officials would uphold the law of the land my Daughter, Suzie Kay would not be in the fix she is in.

    We have legal ways to get into this country and that is how it should be done/ by the laws on the book/ by the people we vote in to uphold the law of the land/ My God What Happened??
    Independant Voter From Iowa
    2nd try on the subject

    November 20, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. john williams san diego, ca.

    Ruben forgot to mention that in Mexico you do not have to take a test for a drivers license. you are allowed to go to even grocery stores, take a picture and submit for a drivers license..sort of what democrats are pushing plus the voter jackpot.

    November 20, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Steve Gilmore, Huntersville NC

    The author of this story just HAS to be an illegal immigrant. What an idiotic opinion to share with normal people.

    November 20, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Toronot Canada

    Nonsense. You enact a state law taht anyone driving a vehicle without having had a license, escheats and forfeits the vehicle for ever. That takes care the protection of the public. Any undocumented person who has applied who has a visa application pending is entitled to a driver's licence as long as the application is not trurned down. Now what is so difficult about it? Instead you have the bleedong hearts like Navarrete who is kiiling the chances doe all. Lou of cnn would even assist you guys in such endeavor. Smarting up. It is about time.

    November 20, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    Ruben is right, but he's also an idiot. He had a good point which he explained very poorly.
    I don't like the idea that people who broke the law might be given drivers licenses. When I first reviewed the immigration reform suggestions I didn't like the idea cause it sounded like amnesty.

    But what are the alternatives. As much as the anti-immigration idiots scream "THEY BROKE THE LAW! PUNISH THEM! At the end of the day, we DO NOT have the law enforcement manpower to hunt down 12 million people and escort them out of the country.

    So we have two choices:
    1. Continue to let these people hide in the shadows, and suck up tax resources.
    2. Give them a carrot, (like a path to citizenship) that will make them willingly come out to the shadows and be taxed.

    So if any of you anti-amnesty nuts screaming "THEY BROKE THE LAW!!" can come up with a better idea, trust me, I would love to hear it.

    November 20, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. Walt, Belton, TX

    May be time to play cowboys and mexicans again.

    November 20, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Moe, NY

    So, what's the debate about? ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL! Our government officials should be forced to uphold the laws of this land. As for Gov. Spitzer, I do believe he committed political suicide.

    November 20, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Neill C., Montgomery, Al

    This article is a load of crap. How about enforcing the law? No other nation in the world just allows people to walk in and then gives them legal documents.

    And yes,the governor of NY wants them to be able to vote. NY was trying to pass a law that allowed aliens to vote. I seriously dout any poll worker in NY would stop to see if an alien is illegal or not.

    Do it legally. My grandparents did!

    November 20, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. john williams san diego, ca.

    interesting CNN.. i make a honest statement to ruben about the free benefits illegals get in san diego and it is monitored and then deleted, sorry to upset your agenda...

    November 20, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Cora Big Lake AK

    Remember 1986 Congress will fix our illegal problem and President Regan signed. Yes he did say he regrets it. How many millions were given amnesty? If congress allocated the money per that bill we would not have this problem. This is not about race it is about the law.

    Why is it racist to say we want only legal immigration? What other group of people are demanding their language be spoken? Maybe we should just put on all answering machine press # for Russian, Chinese, Japanese and every language ever spoken. I have a problem with any store that has signs in English and Spanish. I will go to a smaller store and pay more to avoid these signs. So to me it is not racist, I do not need Spanish shoved in my face.

    Drivers license for illegal’s is not the answer, why give them the right to vote. Remember you can register to vote when you get your license.

    CNN should devote a story a day to the problems illegal’s have caused US Citizens. You know identity theft and the impact it has on ones life. The amount of time lost teaching our students while trying to also translate for others.

    I am tired of my taxes going up to support more schools for the influx of illegal’s, hospitals closing or rising cost to offset non-payment and all of the other government give a ways. I believe if you take away most of the social programs they would go home.

    I can not figure out how they can work for $8.00/hour, afford housing, electric, cell phones, cloths, new SUV and still send money back to their homeland. Social programs must be pay well.

    November 20, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. Zeus Racine, WI

    Ruben playing the racist card again, and again, and again and still again...

    I just have to wonder why he thinks that anyone who doesn't AGREE WITH HIM ON IMMIGRATION ISSUES is AUTOMATICALLY a RACIST?

    I guess experience has demonstrated to me that most people who pull out the RACIST CARD, again, and again, and again, are IN FACT THE REAL RACIST!

    November 20, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. Don, Del City, Ok

    It seems Mr. Navarette is more interested in the cause of illegals of his own race than in his fellow countrymen. He has no credibility with me or anyone I know because he is always firmly on the side of the illegals, whatever the issue. I think if all the illegals were Asian we would hear very little from Mr. Navarette.

    November 20, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. Igor Crawford, Texas

    I don't know why there is no common sense here. Your parents are immigrants too. Just because you've being here for a while does not mean you are from here.

    Posted By Jo, ATL GA : November 20, 2007 12:39 pm

    Your right . My parents are IMMIGRANTS.
    LEGAL. They did the proper thing. It took years to do, but they respected the law.

    November 20, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Rudy Hess, Burlington Vermont

    Ruben I can tell by your picture that your just not right in the head. Legal and illegal immgrants are two different issues. i think your just like Hitler, only you beleive latinos are the master race.

    November 20, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  16. Hiding in the hills

    i am so sick of this guy. anyone know how to reach him so i can email him and pass along my displeasure. i wish he could write an article that didn't have to do with his slanted illegal immigration stance.

    November 20, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  17. Former Rightie, Pittsburgh

    Supply and Demand. Jobs are in demand and immigrants are the supply. They pick crops, clean hotel rooms, manicure exclusive golf courses, etc...

    For those of you who want to send them back, please go to your fridge and throw out your fruits and vegies, take your own bathroom cleaning supplies on the next vacation, and forget those nice bunkers and fast greens. They would not exist.

    As much as I believe Bush is the Worse President Ever, his big business buddies have guided him well on the need for this labor supply.

    The vitriol comments here are very disheartening indeed. These are humans looking to better themselves and we should treat them as such. I believe they want licenses, to pay taxes, health insurance, etc.

    As Christmas approaches, I always think of Marley's admonishment to Scrooge, "Mankind is our business".

    November 20, 2007 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. Hillary is a joke - Mira Mesa

    Give me a break. There was nothing here that was racist, it was all political. It was the Gov's call to make and instead of doing what he though was right, he folded to save Hillary embarassment.

    I didn't think it was a great idea, but then again I don't live in NY so they can do whatever they want.

    November 20, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. Sandy Burger

    If you or CNN love the illegal invaders, then try keeping them in your home and NOT in our country.
    Don't dump your half brain brothers on the welfare of this country. Try to fund them yourself.


    November 21, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  20. Jonah, Boston MA

    Does anyone besides me take the time to wonder how immigration has become the second biggest issue of this election? There has been no great precipitating event, nor a significantly greater than usual influx of immigrants over the last couple of years. Do you know what it’s called when an issue pops up for no reason around election time? It’s called a “wedge issue.” It’s a political technique used by Republicans to polarize the electorate by appealing to their party’s despicable tendencies. In this case, they are appealing to their base’s racism and xenophobia. In past elections, they have appealed to their base’s homophobia and religious fanaticism.

    Naturally, the Democrats, being the spineless, sorry excuse for a party that they are, have played right into the Republicans’ hands by legitimizing this quasi-issue. What they should do is say, “Look. There are more important things to worry about. The war. Civil liberties. Humanitarian crises,” and so on. Instead, they concede that this is a massively important issue, address it halfheartedly, and come out looking like the weaker party on immigration. This really is not that big of a deal, folks—unless you just can’t stand Mexicans living in your vicinity, in which case Navarette is spot-on: you are a racist.

    November 21, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Hilary, Rochester NY

    My skull is not thick, dense, or iron-plated and yes, I know the difference between legal and illegal. So spare me that spew, please. All the self-righteous indignation over people who break the law by bypassing our ludicrous legal immigration process is extremely tiresome. Anyone who's really looked at our immigration policies would have to wonder what the "enforcement only" crowd really thinks of immigrants in general.

    America labors under a delusion. The first part of that delusion is that our impossibly porous borders can be "secured," even though we're surrounded by desert to the south, ocean to the east and west, and thousands of miles of sparsely-inhabited prairie and forest to the north. The second part of the delusion is that someday, we'll deport all 15 million illegal immigrants and only let legal ones in, and then we can all be happy and have only green-card bearing legal immigrants who speak perfect English with adorable accents.

    The fence that will stop illegal immigration is built of bold ideas with political risks that might make people uncomfortable, not of barbed wire and bricks and other things that make scaredy-cats feel safe and vote you back into office. We stop illegal immigration by uprooting our overgrown weed-garden of policies that encourage it. And no, I don't mean educating the children of illegals or treating them in emergency rooms, because those are just the incidental costs and not the cause of the problem. I mean the blind eye we constantly turn to the American citizens who violate our immigration laws by hiring illegal immigrants by the dozens. And I mean the impossibly bureaucratic, frustratingly lengthy, ridiculously costly legal immigration process cobbled together from two centuries of conflicting national objectives–the process that gives people every encouragement to make the comparatively short sneak across a border. I predict that it were more of a pain in the butt to dig a tunnel or jump a fence than to file a visa application, and if there were no point in making the illegal crossing anyway because nobody would ever hire you without proof of legal status for fear of paying a crippling fine, the flood of illegals crossing that border would dwindle to a trickle.

    I could only be thankful that my husband had an American spouse who was a literate, English-speaking citizen with a law degree and a Congressman to call on for help. You do not know how many times friends joked with us that we were wasting our time with the process when it would be so much easier to do it "the illegal way." Certainly easier than paying over a thousand dollars in agency fees, providing a list of all political and charitable organizations to which my husband ever donated money, getting letters from his treating doctors on every medical condition he's ever had, listing every subject he's ever studied in school, undergoing a full physical exam including chest x-rays and blood tests, having interviews with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, and providing a scrapbook full of airline ticket stubs, Valentine's Day cards, telephone bills, gift receipts, and photographs to prove that we really did love each other, all the while knowing that it could all be shot down if he happened to have the same name as a bad guy on an FBI watch list. Yes, we did it because it was the right way to do it, but that doesn't mean it made any sense or that we felt good about it. And we had it easy, as my husband was from a well-to-do European country with a huge U.S. embassy and a comparatively short wait time. No, I don't feel insulted about illegal immigrants who "cut in line." I can't imagine how the legal immigration process would be remotely accessible, comprehensible, or worthwhile for the vast majority of people who want to come to the United States.

    So, is it that we want people to follow the law when they come here, or is it that we want people to follow the law because we really don't want them to come here at all? The fact that building a big wall along our southern border is the immigration policy of choice for many Americans gives a hint about our true feelings. I imagine many of you who say you're all for legal immigration approve of the offensive, numbingly bureaucratic, and darn-near punitive legal immigration process. Many of you probably think it should be even more difficult than it is. That, combined with the economic incentive provided by the enforcement-immune American employers of illegals, is the mindset that will guarantee a continuing flood of illegal immigrants for decades to come. Until we confront our true feelings about immigration and really examine the mixed messages we're sending with our policies, we won't solve this problem. Not with fences, not with border guards, not with deportations. They sure do make our politicians in Washington look pretty tough, though, don't they?

    November 22, 2007 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  22. Dieter Gustaff, Jasper Indiana

    Hey all you racists!! my ancesters are from germany and I want open borders for any german wishing to relocate in the U.S. Do you racists have any idea of the suffering you are causing us by keeping our families apart, shame, shame on you all!! you should all be thrown in prison like Ramos and Compean. If you keep us out who will design your rockets?

    November 22, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
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