Senate Republicans promised Wednesday to delay or derail Gov. Eliot Spitzer's new plan to make it easier to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the Assembly's minority said they will file a lawsuit Thursday to stop Spitzer's "illegal plan," which was announced Saturday. Assembly Republican leader James Tedisco of Schenectady said it would "make our state and nation a less secure, less safe place."
Republican senators had just as many objections to the new plan for three levels of licensing as they did to a single-license plan announced in September, but their latest arguments focused on national security.
"I don't like options when it comes to security of the state and of this nation," said Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican. "We're not talking about immigrants. Immigrants built this nation and continue to build this nation. We are talking about illegal aliens ... nobody is going to take the terrorist aspect of this lightly."
The new license plan worked out with federal homeland security officials will offer three types of driver's licenses in 2008, based on New Yorkers' needs. It will also create what the federal officials said will be one of the most secure licenses in the country. New anti-fraud scanners will detect bogus documents and verify foreign passports, Swarts said.
"We will have three separate and secure licenses all used for different purposes _ one to cross the New York-Canadian border, one to fly on planes domestically and one for driving and identity purposes," Swarts said at the second Senate hearing on the issue. Without it, federal regulations would soon require New Yorkers to get passports, costing about $100, to board planes and enter federal buildings.
Applicants trying to get a license without traditional documents or a foreign passport will be turned away. They will not be reported to DMV investigators, federal agencies that have replaced the Immigrant and Naturalization Service, or police, Swarts said.
"You don't feel an obligation, sir?" said Sen. Thomas Libous, a Broome County Republican.
"I'm not an INS officer," Swarts said.
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