Licensed to Drive

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Governor Spitzer announced that illegal immigrants will be eligible to get New York State driver’s licenses. We get a variety of viewpoints, from New York State Senators John J. Flanagan (R-2nd, Suffolk County) and Jose M. Serrano (D-28th, The Bronx and East Harlem), the Mayor of Danbury, Connecticut Mark Boughton, and David Verduin, president of the Riverside, New Jersey Coalition of Business Owners and Landlords.


Mark Boughton, John J. Flanagan, Jose M. Serrano and David Verduin

Comments [26]


By that I mean latching on to this or that latest, most innovative idea that some self styled money making guru has put out in the hope it’ll go viral and make them a lot of money off the backs of all the headless chickens who will follow them blindly down a blind alley. Its a shame but a truism nonetheless that people will follow where someone they see as an expert leads. Even if they lead them to certain disaster, which is what most of the gurus tend to do to their flocks.
The trick is to recognize a shadow when you see it!

Dec. 31 2009 04:31 AM
Els van den Bosch from irvington, westchester

I have a comment that everybody in this debate seems to overlook. A driver license is a license to drive, not a license to live in this country legally. The only reason we have this debate in the first place is because driver licenses have a dual use in this country, as the main form of proof of ID and as proof of approval by DMV that one is fit to be a motorist. As a result the DMV offices have the grave responsibility of vetting applicants for their immigrant/citizenship status. The DMV should not be the appropriate agency to do so. It makes the country vulnerable to providing proof of ID to terrorists and other unwanted individuals.

One of the means they have to do this is vetting people for a social security number. This rules out those immigrants, who have no right to work here, but are still legal, such as spouses of working visa holders. They are still the ones driving the children to school or transporting the breadwinners to work. I applaud Governor Spitzer’s initiative to renounce the requirement of a social security number as a basis requirement for an application for a driers license. He cut out an injustice. Whether this measure will make the state more secure, is something I doubt. In my view that will only happen when driver licenses will no longer be used for proof of ID.

Sep. 26 2007 04:39 PM
Desmond Pearman from Oyster Bay

This will have 2 unintended consequences:

Devalue a NYS drivers license for anything outside NYS. New Yorkers will now have to carry additional ID for everything. Huge inconvenience for naturalized and natural-born citizens to benefit who?

Second: It will hand the voter registration rolls in NYS over to the illegal immigration lobby who will now all be able to register to vote.

Sep. 26 2007 11:59 AM
George Showman from Red Hook, Brooklyn

Well, the contractor tax-avoidance fiasco is terrible, I agree. In NYC, most contractors seem to work with illegal laborers anyway, so there's a strong overlap. But I think you're right that the building trades have avoided tax on small jobs for a long time.

I would like everybody to pay tax, to feel invested in the state and to think about the spirit of the tax laws.

But this is a distraction. The main problem with illegal immigration, from my point of view, is that the influx is too rapid; the cultural changes will be too jarring. We need much more time to educate and be educated -- these things take generations. The immigration numbers we're getting now will cause incredible political power shifts, granting major weight to a new population base that I believe, on average, will be under-educated in many aspects of American civics, let alone history, etc.

So the tax comment is probably a waste of time -- too petty compared to the major political issue. It just baffles me when illegal immigrants claim they pay taxes. They would have to go so far out of their way to do so!

Sep. 26 2007 11:59 AM
Mike from Manhattan

Drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants? Because this will make the streets safer? Let me get this straight: Right now, illegal immigrants drive without licenses because they have an economic need to get to work sites. Some are qualified drivers and some are not. If they are permitted to get licenses, will the unqualified drivers cease to drive? Of course, not! They drive illegally now because they have an economic need to and they will continue to drive illegally because they will continue to have this same economic need. Obviously, the desire to allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses is simply a backdoor means to provide documentation. Your failure to parse this very simple situation and pose the right questions instead of letting your guests beat around the bush reveals your own bias that you’re not honest enough to explicitly express on your show.

Sep. 26 2007 11:52 AM
Steven from Ridgewood

Sen. Serrano,

The American Dream argument can be used on both sides. The fact that people enter the US (illegally) because they "want to work" does not erase their illegal actions. If I am hungry and I break into a store because 'all I want to do is eat' I will be arrested. The reason is simple, despite my real need to eat, I am breaking a law. We need to change laws, we have a process for addressing laws and as a Senator your role is to enforce laws as they exist not as they were two centuries ago or has you think they should be. I think there are countless laws that may seem unjustice and unfair to one group or another but as citizens we work to change them. Most people agree that people have a right to work. However, the moment someone crosses the border into the US--they have broken the law. There are countless immigrants who wait, who go through the process to become a legalized citizen. Don't most people who enter the nation illegally use some form of false documentation? If that is the case, what would stop someone from using a NY State Drivers License AND a false ID when the situation calls for it. The imperative is to work NOT obey a law which one feels is unjustice.

What is wrong with a license that marks legal status? If I drive in Italy, I have to get an International Drivers License not an Italian Drivers License because I am not Italian unless I change my nationality.

Sep. 26 2007 11:48 AM
David D from nyc

George and others:

Your favorite contractor doesn't pay takes either on about 10 to 50% of his business.
This is common for landscapers and any home improvement trade.
Anyone here ever pay cash so the contractor takes the tax off of your bill?

Sep. 26 2007 11:46 AM
Tom from New York City

If you come to the US from another country.

Driving licenses

In the USA the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handles driving license issues.

A valid driver license from another country is usually valid in the US, however you will probably need to apply for a state issued driver license once you become a resident. Check with your local DMV branch for full details.

Before leaving your native country, you may wish to obtain an International Driving Permit which is simply proof that you hold a valid driving license in your own country (it is not in itself a driving license).

Sep. 26 2007 11:45 AM
George Showman from Red Hook, Brooklyn

I would love to hear just exactly how illegal immigrants pay taxes! This seems to me to be an issue that advocates of immigrants' rights just gloss over. Day laborers don't pay income tax, do they?



Sep. 26 2007 11:38 AM
sandy siegel from Manhattan

In 2006 the US admitted 173000 - How can legal entry be suggested as the right thing to do with a straight face?

Sep. 26 2007 11:36 AM
Sunphat Yau from X-nyc-LA 4a bit

Brian, right on for being the water bear of the left! Do you forget that voting and driving are PRIVILEGES and not a right? Also ILLEGAL immigrants come here mostly for the work opportunities and send the money home and lastly car insurance has NEVER REDUCED EVER! Dream on Serano, God bless Danbury!

Sep. 26 2007 11:36 AM
IC from NY/Montreal

I don't believe drivers licenses should be crossed over into immigration issues. I am a US citizen with legal status in Canada. Getting a license in Montreal did not require I show my immigration status, just my foreign passport, the main issue they were concern with is paying for the required insurance mandatory with the right to drive. The immigration issues conceringing using an ID to fly domesticaaly only identifies the person, not immigration since no border is crossed. Furthermore crosiing borders now require a passport, so the matter of drivers licence vs. immigration status identification seem to be two separate issue.

Sep. 26 2007 11:35 AM
David D from nyc

With regard to the mayor of Danbury;

His main concern was expressed as the "under market" of cash for day laborer work that undermines legitimate workers, taxes and wages.
I would hope he is consistent and puts as much effort into the "legitimate" workers and trades people that accept cash for any number of jobs every day. It is common practice to receive a cash discount for a contractors performed home improvement. At $20,000 for a new kitchen contractors regularly accept a 10% discount for cash; I'm sure this market far exceeds the paltry amounts that day laborers get.

Sep. 26 2007 11:31 AM
Super Dave Jackson from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

So how does he plan on getting around the state law?

Sep. 26 2007 11:28 AM
Jean from New Jersey

Also, re my ESL student. He planned to go to Michigan to get a drivers license...where a ss# was not needed. He said he could get higher wages as a driver.

Sep. 26 2007 11:27 AM
Jean from New Jersey

Illegal immigrants are abused by US employers based on my experiences as an ESL volunteer in Montclair,NJ. One of my students--a delivery guy for a NJ chain of appliance stores-was requred to work six days a week, 12 hrs a day. While he was grateful to have a job, he felt overworked and underpaid.
In an effort NOT to support this emloyer I purchased a new refrigerator from a major retailer, assuming they would have paid, insured workers. To my surprise, the delivery truck and workers came from a subcontractor. The men, who were very nice, spoke little English and I doubt they were legal.

Sep. 26 2007 11:24 AM
Super Dave Jackson from NYC

Question JJ, what is the main issue?
I have an idea but I think I may be far fetched.

I think the state is just trying to find a way to get more state revenue from any source possible, including Illegals.
The main issue to me is the diminishing in the projected stability of the US middle class. Its getting harder to get a foothold and stay there. Dont believe me go Upstate(above Putnam County)

Sep. 26 2007 11:20 AM
Manuel T. Ortega from Bergen County, New Jersey

It vests immigrants in one tangible component of US citizenship and responsibility.
It permits them to demonstrate good intent to participate with US customs, laws etc.
For those that intend to become citizens it is a good thing.

Sep. 26 2007 11:17 AM
Super Dave Jackson from NYC

And even still wouldnt this diminish the importance and relevance of the NY State drivers license as identification? I mean, if any Willy or Nelly can get one then what good it is?

Sep. 26 2007 11:16 AM
t.vijay from brooklyn

What is the procedure 'for a legal immigrant who drives without a 'driver's license'

Use the same for illegal immigrant?!

Sep. 26 2007 11:16 AM
JJ from NYC

I hope the business owners are punished in Danbury not just the day laborers.

Sep. 26 2007 11:15 AM
Super Dave Jackson from NYC

Ok, I have a question for your guests and Justin: How can you be assured insurance rates will go down if you give Undocumented persons drivers licenses? How do you even know who they are? What if they were to rack up lets say 10-12 DUIs and then one day caused a horrendous fatal accident? Whats to stop them from getting another drivers license in another name? I mean if they dnt have to provide us with a SS# then how do we know the other information they submit is correct? Or verifiable? Whats to stop regular Americans from misusing the system to avoid penalties like child supprt enforcement, etc?

Sep. 26 2007 11:15 AM
JJ from NYC


The focus should be brought on illegal employment and trade policies that cause worker insecurity in America.

I feel that the 'illegal immigrant' debate is a side show, or at least it is not the main the issue.

Sep. 26 2007 11:12 AM
t.vijay from brooklyn

I would add an 'International driver's license' to the passport!

The insurance is an other matter!

Sep. 26 2007 11:10 AM
Sunphat Yau from X-nyc-LA 4a bit

I don't even know why states have the ability to regulate issues that reside in the domain of the Nation and should be tied in with national security; like passports. It baffles me that this continues to be an issue of debate, these people entered illegally, and then have obtained fraudulent I.D.s and S.S.#s (possibly damaging other's credit). Just because you offer government sanctioned IDs that does not guarantee that everyone will get in line, nor will there be any way to cross reference these people since they have no visa. Many friends of mine came here and jumped through endless hoops and bent over backwards for INS to await a Green-card. I am Pro-immigration, but only via legal channels.

Is the next plea going to be for these people's "right" to vote?

Sep. 26 2007 10:59 AM
justin from Manhattan

A license to Drive is better than those driving without a license.
By providing a legal document to an undocumented person we maybe able to better track the whereabouts of the undocumented people. Those who are against this feel that we are rewarding people for breaking the laws. Yet the laws being broken are not state laws but Federal Laws and from a States view providing drivers licenses may help the state better manage the people that maybe otherwise remain in the shadows that everyone sees but doesn't want to acknowledge it's existence.

Sep. 26 2007 08:29 AM

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