November 20th, 2007
09:48 AM ET
11 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.

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Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. joseph, austin, tx

    this guy is the racist, he wants a soulution enforce the laws on the books. giving DL's to these people wont mean they will get and keep insurance. I cant stand this guy, and I know his argument is weak because he always has to resort to the racism card, instead of actual facts. Besides everyone knows this was an attempt to get illegals to vote dem.

    November 20, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    I was fascinated by the idea that we might trick illegal immigrants into giving us an address and a thumbprint while teaching them what a red octagon means and how turn signals work, but you guys blew it for us. Too bad. Look out for Pedro on the highway tonight, y'all.

    November 20, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. smith,cl.Ohio

    ya, right. Looks like illegal immigrants are helpless in this country to use them for political purposes. Wasn't this a set up for Hillary for Latinos to feel good about her and vote for her?. Why now?, why being tackled by a presidential candidate and not the white house or the president? oooh, I forgot it is election time , you know. Now we have to change the tactic and give Richardson a "peace Price" because of being an ambassador. Or we can take the presidential debate to vegas so that we can cheer them up. That time is gone and I think people have woken up. The good old politics is gone and people have woken up to their sences.

    November 20, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Carson, Augusta, GA

    I do enjoy reading Ruben's columns for a good chucle. he always thinks he's right but he is simply laughable. give a driver's license to illegals? a joke. we have to enforce current law and adjust which we are not doing.

    November 20, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. JohioW, Columbus, Ohio

    Sensible solution? Who is this guy kidding? Giving documentation to those who are in our country illegally is the worst idea I have heard of? Why do they let this guy write?

    November 20, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Dan, TX

    Exactly. If the federal government does not take on immigration reform, States have a right to protect themselves and take matters into their own hands.

    The Spitzer plan is not a bad idea. Gov. Richardson has already done this in New Mexico and it has SAVED LIVES. So, the republicans saying they would not support this are slapping States rights in the face. The federal government is supposed to prevent illegals from entering and then deport them if they are here illegally. If there aren't enough officers to do the task, hire them. If there isn't enough money to hire them, raise taxes. If you don't want to raise taxes, then live with it, as we are doing now. But if you choose to live with it, then live in the safest way possible.

    It is democrats like Richardson (and Obama in theory) that are able to take a stand on common sense and principle over fear.

    November 20, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. james, Minneapolis, MN

    Thanks for finally letting people post some comments on this guy's weekly latino rant.

    I am so tired of reading CNN's weekly dedication to all things Ruben thinks are wrong in America, but only relating to people of color, specifically those that speak spanish.

    He probably does more damage in creating negative attitudes towards latinos and immigrants with his constant whining and verbal abuse than any do-nothing congress can.

    November 20, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Diamond

    Here's the most ignored fact about this scheme:

    "A state-issued driver's license that would be easily discernible from licenses carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents"

    How can any reasonable person not see the security benefits of these special purpose licenses as opposed to the security risk of its absence?

    November 20, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Michael Huerta, indianapolis indiana

    Americans and their elected officials need to go back to the constitution and the rule of law. Illegal immigrants should not be given a privelidge for breaking our immgration laws. The key to solving our illegal immigration crisis is jail time and fines for employers who hire them.

    November 20, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Aaron, Lynnwood, WA

    Wait, why does running across a boarder make you a citizen again? Why would we reward people for criminal behavior. Do you notice that the LEGAL immigrants have drivers licenses?

    November 20, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Aaron, Lynnwood, WA

    Yeah, we should also give known drug dealers unofficial handgun licenses, since they're going to carry them anyway.

    Am I the only person that sees a problem with this?

    November 20, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Dave, Evergreen CO

    Well said. The demonizing of illegal aliens by the right wing is to be, unfortunately, expected but the falling in lock-step behind them by mainstream politicians because of poll results driven by their angry rhetoric is truly frightening. Serious problems require serious people making hard decisions based on “facts on the ground”.

    With all apologies to Wolf Blitzer this is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question which is why both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama struggled to give such an answer. Unfortunately Sen. Clinton caved in to the polls and rhetoric (I know, it’s hard to believe) and changed her position.

    November 20, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Alexander, Washington D.C., USA

    Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed a controversial, yet terribly sensible, plan

    Ruben Navarette, How is rewarding illegals in violation our National Sovereignty with driving privileges sensible?!?!? The SENSIBLE thing would be to send them back home. Somebody better check Ruben Navarette's green card.

    November 20, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Mike ,Panama City ,FL

    An excellent read !

    He is very true in saying that some don't want to drive on the roads with immigrants , which is already happening and that they are living in a state of denial .

    Some people are surprised when they see a neatly trimmed educated looking immigrant walk in a restaurant full of old white people , and they look and the envy , thats what it is pure envy .

    It is racism , you don't want to share the road with an immigrant , you don't want to go to college with an immigrant, its pure racism.

    And its really no suprise , in a country well racism against blacks if very much alive ,racism against latinos etc

    This is why you are getting comunities of one race ,because people dont want them to miggle with the other crowd.

    We live in a new century , everywhere is a melting pot , people that think things should be like they were 60 years ago , or in the wrong century simple as that , you have the progressors and those who their minds never grow up

    Instead of giving them the freaking license already , they are clogging up jail houses with people that are driving with no licenses and making money of their backs .Inocent people that work hard like a dog for 8 bucks an hour to feed a family of 4 . And then you cry about them sending 100 bucks a week to their dirt poor families back home , so they can live a little .

    Its sad its inhuman its disgusting !

    Is that really fair treatment?, when you have kids at home your wife at home waiting for dinner on the table when instead you're sitting in jail for no reason , you're put in jail with rapers ,killers ,murderers for what ?

    All because people dont feel they want to share the community with others .

    Its ridiculous how this country treats its people , everything is for one class , they don't care about the blacks ,the Latinos nothing .

    This has to be the worst government in American history ,thanks bush and the republicans for ruining this country, 9 trillion dollar deficit , sinking dollar , more taxes its ridiculous , we need change now !

    November 20, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. PSK Lakeside, AZ

    I am so very sorry you view the American public's rejection of licensing as racism. There are some of us out here that just see it as a LEGAL issue- not a racial issue. Giving folks who are here illegally ANY legal status is like spitting in the face of all those immigrants that patiently waited in line to become legal citizens of this country. People that took the time to learn english and American history.
    People that arrive under the fence do not deserve to be rewarded for breaking the law, regardless of the role they play economically.

    November 20, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. xtina chicago IL

    No matter what Mr Havarette calls it, they are still illegal. What price is too high to send these people back home? How much are we paying them already to stay here? FREE medical, food stamps, and a host of other social programs. If illegal aliens' children attend schools here, why aren't they paying into the tax system to support those schools? And if we don't have borders, we're really not a country are we?

    November 20, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Did someone change the meaning of "illegal" and not tell us?? I find it comical that Ruben is still actively employed by the Washington Post....they consider it a badge of honor when they write outragious pieces of partisan dribble and people respond....its not – don't detract...."illegal" means against the law....enforce the law

    November 20, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Mike,Panama City,FL

    Their is 3 different classes of immigrants in this country

    1. The immigrants that came and have their papers up to date

    2. The immigrants that came , had papers ,and then overstayed , all of whom each are in different situations ;Marriage, Marriage with kids etc .

    3. The immigrants that came here by climbing a wall , under a wall ,etc.

    In NY when they had the background image of the immigrants protesting to get licenses , Yes their were mexicans ,but their were also , Russians ,Chinese ,Japanese etc

    So what do you do for them , this citizenship is obviously not fair , you have people that are still waiting for years to get their papers up to date , are they suppose to stay home and not go to work because they cant get their licenses or documents up to date because of slowness from the government because of unfair prices 1000 dollars for documents not including photos ,finger prints etc ..

    WHat do you do for those types of people ,You now broke the bill up now lets here youre plans

    Any I thought so , I challenge anybody to come up with a better plan then to give licesnes to those who can prove they came here legally ,and by getting a license will purchase mass insurance thus helping this struggling economy , sinking dollar, raising gas prices etc etc etc

    You have a problem , think around it , we need thinkers here instead of opportunist that don't think but reject plans and don't have plans of their own .

    November 20, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Okay Navarette we get it. You are another hispanic that believes that this nation should open the borders to the south so that the entire latin community can dump their poor on us. Anyone with half a brain realizes that this wont work. But I guess that would count Navarette out, it requires half a brain. Oh and by the way, just to let those who think my remarks are racist, I am hispanic. Navarette is the hispanic community's version of Al Sharpton, its all about being hispanic, not about being American.

    November 20, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.... we need to shine some harsh light onto these illegal cockroaches and the corporates who hire them. It's time to ship the illegals back to illegal land, grant citizenship based on job skills and not familial ties or birth, secure our borders and clamp down on the businesses that hire these people! Maybe I'm sounding like Lou Dobbs, but y'know, I'm proud of that!

    November 20, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Demonizing immigrants is easy to do, we are still a country where there are differences between race, social status and gender... so illegal immigrants are a good target. the question is are we going to do the right thing? the fact is that these people came to this country in pursue of happiness, the legality was imposed by congress, but in countries like Mexico and Latin America where the majority of these immigrants come from the education receive is not enough for these people to even be informed on HOW they could apply legally to come to this country. that by no means makes it right, but it is an important cause and effect. we are faced with Millions of these people roaming our streets, some decent people, some criminals it is not easy to determine what to do, but it is a sovial issue and one that I don't feel is the best for the Republican party, they all seem in favor of deportation (without violating human rights is near impossible) some suggest arresting and penalizing employers (again more government intervention and it will hurt the economy) so the choices are few and non very appealing. but it is easy to turn a lot of people against them. the perception is that they should not have a voice, they are bad, dirty less than the rest of us... I believe that our best minds and efforts can see us through this issue, but we also must educate people to look at this people with some deal of respect, in the end they are Humans just like any of us.

    November 20, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. james, Minneapolis, MN

    Claiming racism as if immigrants are a race, is just another way to cheapen the argument. They dont care about other immigrants, just the ones that speak spanish.

    November 20, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Kevin, Baltimore MD

    Why would any illegal want to go and get a license anyway, especially if it is "easily discernible from licenses carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents"????? This would only highlight the fact that they were here illegally and make it harder for them to blend in as they would like to do.

    Also, playing the race card is getting old. Tell me Ruben, if we don't want illegals here because they are breaking the law regardless of their race, how do we say that without people like you ignorantly accusing us of being racist?

    November 20, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Sensible? Only if you believe in sanctuary cities and illegal immigration.

    November 20, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. joseph, ausin, tx

    Mike ,Panama City ,FL

    noone is talking about immigrants, you're right we all love immigrants they keep the country fresh. However we are talking about ILLEGAL immigrants and noone else, and for the idiots who will say im racist or xenophobic, I dont want stinky canadians here either

    November 20, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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