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Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to have it both ways on driver’s licenses for illegal aliens — yes, they should have them; and no, they should not, and that’s final, understand?
The question arose during a debate of Democratic presidential candidates when she was asked if she supported the plan of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to issue licenses to illegal aliens with passports, and she angrily went into attack mode, saying everything was President Bush’s fault. If he had solved the illegal-alien question, Spitzer wouldn’t have to act. It sounded as if the senator were supporting the befuddled leader of her state, only later she said she wasn’t, at least not exactly.
She didn’t get away with this straddling of an issue because a couple of her fellow candidates pounced all over her, although not even Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut took time to show the ultra-silliness of Spitzer’s position.
Dodd did say that driving was a privilege that should not be extended to the aliens, and he is right. He didn’t put it this way, but the last thing you do when people are increasing poverty in your nation, pushing down wages, taking jobs from people here legally, disobeying your laws, overburdening public facilities and raising your taxes is embrace them. You do not go out of your way to make them more welcome. You do not walk down the path of giving them every advantage everyone else has.
Well, some say, giving them licenses will make the roads safer. How exactly? If someone driving illegally takes the various tests and flunks them, will he therefore stop driving; and if he passes them, is he therefore less likely to have accidents than before?
Supposedly, the Spitzer plan will bring the aliens “out of the shadows,” but why? To get these licenses, they’ll have to start purchasing expensive insurance they now don’t buy and likely can’t afford, and they have to give the government information about who they are and where they live. Spitzer does not have the power to promise them the federal government could never use that information to track them down and deport them.
I doubt that Spitzer’s plan will attract thousands of aliens to motor-vehicle offices, but here is what I do believe: The way to get the state’s roads safer from this particular hazard is to get tougher on enforcing employment laws. With no jobs, the aliens will start heading home, which, by the way, is not so horrid a fate. It’s not prison.
Saying something like the above would have cost Clinton some support in some quarters because the position is supposed to be nativist, racist and lacking in compassion when the opposite is more nearly true. What can be less caring than making life worse for our own most unfortunate citizens, many of them minorities, while simultaneously encouraging more and more millions to flock to this country in disrespect for our laws to face exploitation and danger? If you’re not going to remove the incentive for coming and instead seek ways to accommodate lawbreakers, you might as well just agree that our new immigration policy is to open the doors for everyone. Want to be a citizen? Sign right here.
You might hope government would figure out as much and come to the rescue, but it hasn’t because Clinton is hardly the only politician who wants to waltz around issues without facing them. Both parties want the Hispanic vote and fear losing it if they get tough on illegal immigration, and neither party is particularly eager to further aggravate the large number of Americans who do want tougher measures, either. There are business interests that like the cheap, taxpayer-subsidized labor, and there are advocacy groups assured that any attempt to restrain the flow of illegals to this country is cruel, no matter how adult and based on common sense.
So we’ve sat around for decades doing almost nothing but evading honest solutions, although occasionally seeking still another compromise that won’t work. One thing you can say for Clinton is that she has helped focus our attention on the fact that there are a whole lot of problems in this country that aren’t going to be successfully addressed until we solve the political problem of politicians too often trying to be all things to all people.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)