national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]
















Harold Johnson- Columnist

Harold Johnson is an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation. A Sacramento-based public-interest law firm, PLF has a long history of litigating for tax restraint, including in support of Proposition 13 following its enactment in 1978.

Driver’s License Law Sideswipes the Constitution
Pacific Legal Foundation takes on licenses for illegals...
[Harold Johnson and William Mount] 11/14/03

Consider the California driver’s license. What an E-ticket item it is! Besides letting you tool down the freeways, in many cases it’s all the ID you need to borrow a video, buy groceries ...or board an airliner. So when California Gov. Gray Davis signed SB 60, allowing driver’s licenses for people who are here in violation of immigration rules, he was presenting the keys to the city—and the state and the nation—to folks flouting federal law.

Is it legal for state officials to do that? So far, debate over SB 60 has focused on its policy implications. Giving a pass to people who come here by cutting corners, critics argue, isn’t fair to aspiring immigrants who play by the rules. And in this Age of Al Quaida—with red, orange and yellow alerts putting people on edge—it flashes a dangerous green light to people who might come here with sinister intentions.

But beyond these practical concerns, questions of law must be addressed. This is what Pacific Legal Foundation does in litigation, and on November 10 filed a lawsuit to void California’s new scheme giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Representing Latino Americans for Immigration Reform, a Santa Ana-based advocacy group, PLF makes three legal arguments:

SB 60 intrudes on federal authority over immigration.

The United States Constitution gives Congress sole responsibility for setting a “uniform rule of naturalization.” As the Supreme Court put it in a 1971 ruling, it’s the role of the federal government—not the states—to determine “what aliens shall be admitted to the United States, the period they may remain [and] regulation of their conduct before naturalization.”

SB 60 violates this rule by treading on Congress’s turf. A driver’s license is the closest thing we have to a national ID card. It eases an individual’s movement and day-by-day functioning anywhere in the country. For California to give what amounts to an internal passport to people who aren’t in the United States legally, is the practical equivalent of setting up its own, state-level protocol for immigration. This directly challenges the federal government’s constitutional power to say who may come in to the country, for how long, and on what terms.

SB 60 promotes vote fraud.

Under the federal “Motor Voter” law, applicants for driver’s licenses must also receive voting registration forms. With SB 60 inviting illegal aliens to the DMV, this means they’ll be getting voter registration forms as well. And why should we expect that people who are already breaking immigration laws will scruple about registering to vote, no matter what fine print is printed on the registration form? Bottom line: SB 60 makes it more likely that illegal immigrants will get on the voting rolls, so their votes can, unconstitutionally, cancel out the votes of American citizens.

SB 60 illegally restricts information-sharing with federal authorities.

SB 60 prevents the DMV, except in limited circumstances, from releasing to anyone, including federal immigration and homeland security authorities, information about the use of taxpayer ID numbers by driver’s license applicants. A taxpayer ID would be used by someone who isn’t eligible for a Social Security numbers—which means, in most cases, someone who’s not in the country legally.

Federal law prohibits any restriction on a state sharing information on any individual’s immigration status with immigration officials, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. Federal law also prohibits shielding illegal aliens from detection, or inducing persons to enter or reside in the country illegally. California violates all of these restrictions when it gives driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and holds back information from the feds.

The United States is, proudly, a nation of newcomers. But it is also a nation of laws. Indeed, it is that unshakable fact that has made the United States free and prosperous, drawing the “tired, poor”—and eager and ambitious—from around the globe. If this nation is to remain a beacon of hope for immigrants, it must always reaffirm the rule of law. An essential step, right now, is to strike down SB 60.

Harold Johnson and William S. Mount are attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation. They are counsel for Latino Americans for Immigration Reform in the lawsuit challenging SB 60.



Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005