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Monday, November 29, 2004

HR 10: If You Don't Know What It Is You May Be Gambling With Your Life-or-Why I Disagree With My President

HR 10 is the House version of the bill introduced to implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. It contains many of the provisions of the 9/11 Commission's homeland security recommendations. Remarkably, the Senate version allows illegal aliens to obtain drivers licenses contrary to the House bill. Joe Lieberman is out front on the Senate version, to my surprise since I have always viewed him as relatively strong and sensible on national defense. To my chagrin, it seems the President has aligned himself with most Democrats and a number of Republicans by not insisting this provision be part of the final bill. Drivers licenses are our de facto national ID cards (unless and until something is done with Social Security cards...but more on that later). Think about what we require them for: To board an airplane, to enter the United States (at least from Mexico), to obtain a permit to purchase and transport explosives over state lines!! Indeed, several of the 9/11 terrorists were in the country illegally but had valid drivers licenses. Granted, this provision alone will not make us safe, but why on earth would we want to happily hand out the equivalent of American ID cards to people who should not even be in this country? In California, Gov. Arnold has refused to sign state legislation that would allow illegals to obtain drivers licenses unless there is some sort of clearly visible difference between a license issued to a citizen and one issued to a non-citizen. Naturally, his position is labeled as bigoted and racist, but what else would you expect in a state where most local law enforcement officials are prohibited from inquiring into an arrestees citizenship status or, if known, sharing that with the INS (note: that agency has a new name and acronym now, but it escapes me). The other concern I have over this is purely political. I read recently where Hillary has been making a bit of noise on the logical side of this. I'm no Karl Rove, but it seems to me that if the next Democrat to run for President took a strong position on homeland security by, for example, offering up a principled reason to be against drivers licenses for illegals, that would certainly get the attention of the significant percentage of voters who considered security and the war on terror as the most important issues facing this country, and voted against Kerry because of that. For more analysis, please read Donald Collins in the Washington Dispatch.

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