Contact: Juan Carlos Polanco, (212) 312-1448
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tedisco, Assembly Minority Host NYC Public Hearing On Spitzer's Driver License Plan For Illegal Aliens
Experts say Governor's "incomprehensible" policy puts "safety at great risk"

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) and members of the Assembly Minority Conference today hosted a public hearing to investigate the Governor's plan to hand out driver licenses to illegal aliens. Nationally-recognized experts on homeland security and immigration led the discussion and pointed to deep flaws in the Governor's unilateral policy change.

"We were promised by Governor Spitzer that on Day One, everything changes," said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga). "Little did New Yorkers realize that change meant illegal aliens would be able to obtain valid driver licenses. What we've heard today is more confirmation that this reckless decision has compromised our security and is a blatant violation of the law. I guarantee that's not the change that New Yorkers had in mind. My Conference and I will fight this and if the decision is not rescinded, we will take legal action by October 31st."

A representative from You Don't Speak For Me!, a Hispanic-American organization advocating for homeland security and against illegal immigration was also part of the panel. Although he was unable to personally attend, the organization's founder and chairman, retired U.S. Army Colonel Albert Rodriguez provided a comment regarding Governor Spitzer's plan, "He is opening the gates against the security and welfare of the people of the state. He should be supporting his Oath of Office, the Constitution of the State and of the nation by ensuring the protection of the people. He lied when he took that oath."

"The Governor's decision to hand out driver's licenses to illegal aliens is a reckless and impulsive move on his part," said Assemblyman Tom Kirwan (R,C-Newburgh). "The Governor should have consulted with county clerks on the legality and impact of this new policy. He should have considered the impact this decision would have on the law abiding citizens of New York State who will have to buy passports to get on flights within the United States because their state driver's licenses are no longer a valid barometer of whether or not the person is a citizen of this county. This governor obviously never heard the word 'no' as a child but he is hearing it more and more now and rightfully so."

"Since the terror attacks of 9-11, the vast majority of states followed New York's 2002 lead, and now verify social security numbers," said James Staudenraus, who has worked to improve drivers' license security for over 10 years and was instrumental in developing and passing the federal Real ID Act. "Governor Spitzer's rollback of driver license security to pre-9-11 levels puts homeland security, public safety, and police officer safety at great risk. Under the current drivers' license program, every DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office in our state can quickly verify an applicant's social security number. We've been doing it since 2002. Governor Spitzer has proposed that the DMV accept foreign identity documents that we have absolutely no way of authenticating."

Under the Governor's plan, DMV employees would need to be experts at verifying every national identity card or voter card in the world (there are 194 countries, including Taiwan).

A report released this month by the Congressional General Accounting Office confirmed that it has become increasingly easy for illegal aliens to obtain driver licenses using false documents. This has heightened national security risks and further substantiates the recent Federal Trade Commission's report which estimated 3.3 million people were victims of full-blown identity theft just last year alone.

The Coalition for a Secure Drivers' License reports that 40 percent of illegal aliens in the United States entered legally with visas, or other legal admissions, and have overstayed their visas. In many states, foreign visitors with passports and visas can obtain valid driver licenses which are not limited to the term of their visas. This was a similar case with the 9/11 terrorists who had 35 driver licenses among them. These licenses helped them plan and carry out the devastating terrorist attacks.

Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-Guilford), who attended today's hearing, said, "Governor Spitzer has crossed the line with citing this as an 'administrative policy change.' While we depend on legal immigrants for labor and diversity in our state and nation, there needs to be a system in place where we can monitor our legal immigrants as well as a system to take note of the immigrants that are here illegally."

"The only thing worse than no security is false security," said Mike Cutler, a nationally-recognized security and immigration expert. "The driver's license is this nation's de facto national identity card. It purports to properly identify the person whose photo appears on this critical document. It also enables the person named on the card to have access to airliners, interstate trains and federal office buildings. The driver's license is essential for conducting business and for even seeking employment."

Mr. Cutler continued, "The 19 terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001, in the aggregate, used some 364 false aliases and in order to create those false identities made use of multiple driver's licenses in addition to other documents. While the New York State driver's license may well incorporate features to make it far more difficult to alter or counterfeit, the greatest area of vulnerability is to determine what name should be imprinted on that card in the first place. Additionally, it is outrageous to provide such a critically important form of identification to illegal aliens who have no right to be physically present in our country in the first place and whose presence within the borders of this great nation constitutes a violation of law."

"Governor Spitzer has once again taken the attitude that it is 'My way or the highway,'" said Assemblyman Phil Boyle (R,I,C-Islip). "Unfortunately, in this case, that highway is going to be filled with cars driven by illegal immigrants with New York State licenses."

Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 2,603 of these deaths were right here in New York. One of those killed was 23-year old James Gadiel who worked on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center North Tower. His parents, Peter and Jan, helped found the 9/11 Families for a Secure America which reports that 75 percent of Americans want stricter enforcement of border security measures immediately. Peter Gadiel, who is on the group's board of directors, attended today's forum and gave testimony as did Joan Molinaro, the mother of a New York City Fire Fighter who was killed on 9/11.

"This has to be one of the worst policy decisions ever made by a governor in the Empire State," said Assemblyman Bill Reilich (R,C,I-Greece), who also attended. "The Governor, in one unilateral move, has weakened the integrity of our licensure system, has weakened both our national and state security and will make air travel more difficult for law abiding New Yorkers, all in an effort to give illegal immigrants access to drivers' licenses."

"By encouraging countless people to violate our immigration laws, incentives such as the proposal to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens transform the difficult task of securing our Nation's borders into an impossible goal," said T.J. Bonner, President of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents over 11,000 border patrol agents across the country. "The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 serve as a stark reminder that not everyone who enters our country is looking to share in the American dream. In light of the indisputable evidence that identity fraud greatly facilitates terrorists' travel and access to vulnerable facilities, it is incomprehensible that Governor Spitzer would even contemplate, much less enact, a measure that will jeopardize the safety of the citizens of the State of New York, as well as the entire Nation."

"While I encourage those who come into this country legally to assimilate into our culture, pay taxes and earn the American dream, it is far too burdensome to expect the taxpayers of our state to support those who do not respect the law," said Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R,C,I,WF-Massapequa). "Providing drivers' licenses for illegal aliens is just another 'welcome mat' and sends the message that in New York you can get a free ride. From a national security standpoint, this plan can lead to big trouble."

Congressman Tom Tancredo (6th District, Colorado) presented testimony based on his experience as the founder and former chairman of the bipartisan House Immigration Reform Caucus. In addition, Tancredo is a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "It is unbelievable that just a few short years after September 11, Gov. Spitzer would start down this dangerous road and put the whole nation at risk. By allowing illegal aliens access to state ID's, we are rewarding criminals, incentivizing more illegal immigration and giving terrorists the 'keys to the kingdom,'" said Tancredo.

"This Governor needs to wake up," said Assemblyman Greg Ball (R-Carmel). "New York State was attacked six years ago and his extension of driver's license privileges to 1 million illegal aliens is a national security nightmare. Spitzer is aiding and abetting future terrorists by providing currently illegal identity documents in the form of driver's licenses to those who may wish to harm us. This is not about immigration; this is about security. Terrorists look for weaknesses in our system and holes in our security to exploit. This Governor's policy will be a huge trap door, making us vulnerable, and created by this Governor for no other reason than as a cheap throwaway to gain political favor and secure future votes."

"I strongly urge the Governor to rethink his position on this matter and do what is in the best interest of the state and nation," said Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R-South Shore) at the event. "The Governor should not be playing politics with our security, especially when he is the leader of a state that has been a victim of the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history. The Governor needs to do what's right for the law abiding citizens of the state and stop pandering to the radical elements in his party."

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