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. Jim, Omaha, NE

    ILLEGAL = Criminal. Look it up since you seem confused. Any contact with one of these criminals should result in deportation. Finding and deporting the millions here ILLEGALLY (call them invaders not immigrants)would be difficult. ENFORCE the criminal penalties for hiring them, all the way to the top rungs of businesses, and the jobs will dry up. They will deport themselves. Those trully wishing to be part of American society will apply properly to become LEGAL immigrants. End of Story.

    November 20, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Jo, ATL GA

    It is a simple issue too.

    If you don't support it you are racist. The main issue is the color of the skin.

    The white looking Cubans that cross the river you welcome with open hands. The blacks and red skins you drive out.

    It is simple. You turn around and say its in the national interest. People the Arabs will never go into Mexico when the more open border is up north. They don't even have to come here illegally. they apply for visa and your CIA, FBI and embassies welcome them with open arms.....

    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.

    November 20, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Countless studies have demonstrated the enormous financial burden that is placed on our schools, health care facilities and judicial system by illegal immigrants. Handing a legal document to someone who is in this country illegally only serves to somehow legitimize their presence in many people's minds. This allows the abuses of our system to continue unchallenged and even escalate. Next they will be voting while here illegally. And never mind the cheap lettuce. A significant number of these people are paid in cash and no income taxes are collected. Their contribution to society is nil. Also take into account the displays of arrogance which surface every so often. Pulling down the American flag at an Arizona high school for instance. Schools being sued because they insist on teaching in English. The woman who sued a radio station to try and collect a raffled Corvette even though the contest rules state you must be a U.S. citizen to enter. When does this nuttiness end? Perhaps we should start by deporting Mr. Havarette to the third world country of his choice. Let him see if he can get a driver's license there.

    November 20, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Jed in Texas

    Thanks Reuben,Now get in line like all the other folks that came to this country over The years.Theres nothing worse than a "line jumper",wether its Walmart,a concert or the food bank. I just wish some of the people that have waited for years to come here legally could have five minutes of your time in the ally out back.

    November 20, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Jack, Alabama

    My guess is, the governor's real interest was in the millions of dollars in fees for the licenses. Just because they can buy a driver's license doesn't mean they will buy auto insurance, drive any safer, or pay taxes.

    November 20, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Steve Blaine Washington

    When I resided in California you could not ask a person for proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
    Orange County just south of Los Angeles had a famous conservative Congressman for many many years. Guess what? Illegally registered aliens got rid of him.
    Illegally aliens should not be registered to vote and they should not be license to drive. No insurance company is going to insure anyone who cannot show that they have 3 years
    driving experience which shows on an MVR (Motor Vehicle Record) unless it involves a child and the insurance company is insuring the parents.

    November 20, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Danny G. In Boca Raton:
    What a load of crap. Most of us dont demonize immigrants, we dont support criminals. If all of these illegals would work together in their home country to change government and improve the standard of living there, they may make progress. Instead they choose to come to this nation and steal benefits they should not be entitled to. I think we should welcome immigrants from all nations. I dont think that we should open our arms to criminal immigrants who are breaking our laws. You can give all the starry eyed reasons for why they come here, but the reality is that we can not afford to house, educate and medicate the latin underclass.

    November 20, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. David, Dallas Tx

    Joseph in Austin said, ...enforce the laws on the books.

    Besides everyone knows this was an attempt to get illegals to vote dem.

    Sorry, but you need to be a citizen to vote. Immigrants, legal and illegal, may not vote.

    Navarette points out that the naysayers are blind to what we already have: illegal aliens in our colleges, on our roads, and in our workplaces. Enforcement is yet another thing we already have–INS already spends millions on it. It's fact, not fiction.

    Since we have enforcement, the real question is, what would you do DIFFERENTLY? How many $$billions in taxes do you want to raise to put an INS agent on every corner to round up the millions of illegals? How many civil liberties of the occasional innocent caught in the dragnet do you want to trample to expedite extradition? How much disruption do you want to introduce to certain sectors of our economy, just to ship these folks across the Rio Grande so that next week they can cross back again?

    giving DL's to these people wont mean they will get and keep insurance.

    All of them? Of course not; only 75% of our citizen drivers carry insurance. But really, if an illegal immigrant WANTS to buy insurance, isn’t it foolish to tell him or her “no”?

    Or do you like maximizing the odds that an accident will be uncovered by insurance? That's the real, practical effect of denial of licensing. More uninsured motorists.

    November 20, 2007 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Kate, Aurora CO

    "Sometimes the sheet fits" I'm sorry but who is this racist labeling a racist? So, if I read the column correctly Mr. Navarrette believes since millions have broken the immigration laws and have successfully avoided being caught thus far, we should just give them the same privleges as American citizens and call it a day. Mr. Navarrette also labels those who disagreed as "extremists" but poll after poll in NY showed over 70% opposed this idea as well as many of Gov. Spitzer's constituites. I thought extremists were not the majority but rather a small minority of the population. Mr. Navarrette, I can understand your discontent with the current immigration situtation but tossing the racist card out when things don't go your way is wrong. For the majority, this is not a race issue but rather a legal issue. We as American citizens are told to uphold the law or face consequences but we see illegal immigrants every day who face no such consequences.

    November 20, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    It's OK..we'll just keep our heads in the sand and pretend that unlicensed illegal Mexican and South American drivers aren't on the roads. No doubt NY auto insurance rates will rise sharply or equally expensive "No Fault" insurance schemes will occur before the federal government fixes our illegal immigration problem. I believe it was an opportunity lost.

    November 20, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Nat, Brooklyn, NY

    Plying the racist card by the independent (suppose to be) journalist is unacceptable. In NYC we have thousands of illegal immigrants from Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Ireland, Romania...) These people don't look like Mexicans, but they are still illegal in the country and wouldn't be able to get legal driver's license because of that. How this writer will play the racist card in this case?

    November 20, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Chad, San Jose, CA

    When I was going through diver's ed, I remember being repeatedly told that driving is a privilege, not a right. Handing out that privilege to people who are criminals by their very definition, and who are pledging to continue to brake the law every day by remaining on our roads is ludicrous. It is not RACISM to deny undue PRIVILEGES to CRIMINALS.

    November 20, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. apocalypsebiker, San Diego CA

    How is it sensible? It basically says, "Well, we know you're illegal, but we're not even going to try and enforce the laws. In fact we'll help you to continue breaking the law."

    November 20, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. David, Dallas Tx

    Kate from Aurora: Nicely said.

    I wish I agreed that for most this wasn't a race issue. It seems to me racism is on the rise in this country.

    But that doesn't excuse Navarette for playing the race card when it isn't germaine to the conversation. Nice call.

    November 20, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Geoff Stafford Virginia

    Throwing the race card out there is ridicuous! And, quite frankly, it doesn't work anymore! To put it simply Sir, They are illegal immigrants and they have no rights! You got that! What a pathetic article! I know where I live people are FED UP with illegals and their demands, We have had it!

    November 20, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    AJ; Montpelier, VT

    great comment "...but the reality is that we can not afford to house, educate and medicate the latin underclass." but that just goes to show how immature you are in making a racist comment. danny was using the latin american countries as an example of people coming over.

    November 20, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Steve in SC

    David in Dallas, youever heard of "Motor Voter?" Do you realize that there are lawsuits in certain parts of the country to forbid asking voters for pictures IDs before they vote? Oh yeah! It starts with drivers licenses and will end up with illegal aliens voting and guess who they will vote for? Illegal is Illegal!

    November 20, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Mike G, Little Falls,NJ

    If you think 75% of the public are extremists on one side or the other then YOU are the one with no common sense. Sure, if you appose people breaking the law you must be a racist. Whenever the race card is played I know the speaker is delusional. Name one other crime that that is rewarded instead of punished. Only "loons" like you could be for rewarding people who break into the country with a drrivers license. Wake up!

    November 20, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Randy B

    To Danny G, who writes:
    "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."

    Don't you think that big fence, watch towers and border guards would be a big clue? You rightly state that motivation doesn't make it right. But that's no reason to excuse and/or reward the crime. A mother who steals a loaf of bread to feed her hungry children is doing what she thinks she has to for her family, but she's still breaking the law and will not be excused.

    This issue is where I part ways with the Democratic party. Illegal immigrants are criminals and should be treated as such. Until this country gets serious about the immigration problem, illegals will continue to flood across the border.

    This isn't racism, it's common sense. The rule of law applies to everyone. My parents were immigrants who came to this country legally. I don't care if they're brown, yellow, white, blue or purple, they are still breaking the law. I don't want my tax dollars going to programs to assist criminals who are not legal citizens of this country.

    November 20, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. Mario , Leander Texas

    how is the governor's plan sensible? it does nothing more than give a right to lawbreakers. whats more, it acts as a reward for illegal behavior. navarette is wrong.

    November 20, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. karen nj

    I dont like illegals anymore than the next guy. giving them emeergency room visits without charging them is wrong, unless they're really in an emergency oK?

    November 20, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Chris Troy

    Hmmmm....exactly the story I'd expect an anchor baby to write.

    Actually, the Drivers License idea is a halfway good one. We could offer it up to the law breaking Mexicans, then when they show up to get it.....WHAM! – Into the Return To Mexico Express they go!

    November 20, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. RJ, SV, AZ

    I don't know how many times this needs to be said but I guess I'll say it again. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN IMMIGRANT AND AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT. Get that through your thick, dense, iron-plated skulls. Everyone is perfectly happy with people immigrating here, going through the steps to get documented, getting a job, and paying taxes. It's those that slink across the border, take someone's job because they can get paid a lot less, don't pay taxes on it, and send what money they do earn back across the border that we have problems with.

    Clear now?

    November 20, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Jonah, Boston MA

    I should also add that while many of you talk about criminality, you might want to stop committing crimes against grammar, punctuation, and syntax. My own typos notwithstanding, it is impossible to take someone's opinion seriously when it looks like it was written by a third grader. I know Mexicans more English-literate than half the people on this blog who rage against bilingual education.

    November 20, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Jason, Northern Virginia

    The problem with this idea was that it assumed illegals would want the license. Now, what illegal wants the proper id, oh yeah legals. Another point is that licenses are not free, they cost money. If they have a license then they will need to get insurance, not going to happen. Would you pay for something you are already doing for free? Giving them a license gives no incentive for them to get one, so now they can pay more? and if they get into an accident because they have a license they'll stick around? Faulty logic. We are a country of immigrants we need to find a solution to the problem, but this is not it. Not even a good start.

    November 20, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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