Illegal immigrants are issued ID cards in some places
By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY
Illegal immigrants are getting driver's licenses and identification cards in cities and states that are bucking the national trend to take official documents and public benefits away from them.
New Haven, Conn., began issuing municipal ID cards in July to all residents, including illegal immigrants. New York will join eight other states in giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, starting in December.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer "believes it's important to bring a significant population in New York state out of the shadows … (and) allow them to participate in the economy," Motor Vehicles Commissioner David Swarts says.
"It is totally contrary to the trend in most other states," says Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill, author of a new law that denies illegal immigrants any government ID. It takes effect next month.
"There are huge security concerns when it comes to somebody who is a foreign national in this country possessing official, government-issued" ID, he says.
Swarts counters that safety will improve because illegal immigrants will purchase car insurance and hit-and-run accidents will decrease.
New Haven has issued 3,700 municipal IDs. The card can be used to open a bank account, as a library card and as a debit card at some stores. As many as 15,000 illegal immigrants live in the city.
Laura Perez, 28, opened a checking account with her card. An illegal immigrant from Guatemala, Perez used to keep her money under her pillow. "I feel safe now," she says. "If we are working so hard, if we are paying our taxes, the cards are a fair thing."
Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch, says the cards "raise the specter of local governments conspiring with illegals to help them stay here."
"In the least, they undermine federal law," he says, "and at worst, they violate the law."
Lawmakers are considering municipal ID cards: