February 10, 2005


House Likely to OK Migrant Restrictions: White House support adds impetus to a bill to bar driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, limit asylum claims and close a border fence gap. (Mary Curtius, February 10, 2005, LA Times)

A bill aimed at blocking states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants appeared headed for passage today in the House of Representatives, aided by a strong endorsement from the White House and broad support within the Republican majority.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the bill's prime sponsor, portrayed the legislation — which would also restrict asylum claims and complete a controversial border fence between San Diego and Tijuana — as a matter of national security.

"It seeks to prevent another 9/11-type terrorist attack by disrupting terrorist travel," he said on the House floor Wednesday.

The White House concurred, saying in a policy statement issued hours before debate began that the bill would "strengthen the ability of the United States to protect against terrorist entry into and activities within the United States."

But immigration advocates, groups supporting civil and privacy rights, and state government organizations oppose the bill. They say it would make it harder for those fleeing persecution to seek asylum in this country and would endanger public safety and national security by denying driver's licenses to millions of illegal immigrants.

The bill's fate in the Senate is unclear. If presented as a stand-alone bill, its passage is not assured; but its provisions are likely to be attached to must-pass legislation in that chamber.

If enacted into law, the bill would kill efforts in California to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

Good politics, but John McCain should attach some immigration liberalization measures to the Senate bill and the President should only sign it if it has them. Then it becomes great politics and excellent policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 10, 2005 8:16 AM
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