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    Driver's Licenses for Migrants?
    Immigration; Posted on: 2007-11-16 14:20:01 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Not in Mexico

    Hillary Gets Spitzer to Drop License Plan for Illegals

    Spitzer Drops License Plan

    Chris Hawley
    Republic Mexico City Bureau

    The question of whether to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants ignited a national debate in the United States. But in Mexico, the largest source of U.S. immigrants, there's no question: Here, you must be a legal resident to get a driver's license.

    All of Mexico's 31 states require foreigners to present a valid visa if they want a driver's license, according to a survey of states by The Arizona Republic.

    "When it comes to foreigners, we're a little more strict here," said Alejandro Ruz, director of education at the Mexican Automobile Association.

    Immigrant drivers zoomed into the national spotlight after presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said a move by the New York governor to give licenses to illegal immigrants "makes a lot of sense" during an Oct. 30 debate.

    On Wednesday, Clinton backed off that plan.

    Proponents said the plan would have made the roads safer by ensuring that drivers are trained and insured, but the ensuing public outcry forced Gov. Eliot Spitzer to abandon the effort Wednesday.

    U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., planned to file a bill this week that would bar states from any future attempts to give licenses to illegal immigrants.

    Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington allow drivers to get licenses without proving they are legal residents, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Most other states, including Arizona, require applicants to prove they are citizens or legal residents.

    Mexicans make up the bulk of illegal immigrants in the United States, accounting for an estimated 6 million of the 11.5 million undocumented residents as of March 2005, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

    Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretariat declined to comment on the controversy this week, but the Mexican government has fought U.S. restrictions on licenses in the past.

    In 2004, the former Mexican consul in New York, Arturo Sarukhan, called such rules "a policy without a purpose" during a hearing in the New York State Assembly.

    Sarukhan is now the Mexican ambassador in Washington.

    News Source: The Arizona Republic


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