Background: The driver's license issue emerged in September 2007, when then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered New York officials to grant driver's licenses to illegals. During the Oct. 30, 2007, Democratic primary debate at Drexel University, Sen. Hillary Clinton fumbled a question from the late Tim Russert over whether she supported Spitzer's plan. As for Obama, he has supported driver's licenses for illegals since his days in the Illinois Senate, and continues to maintain that training illegals to drive, and insuring them, enhances public safety.

 

Fact: Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff called then-Gov. Elliot Spitzer in October 2007, warning his plan to grant driver's licenses to illegals would undermine federal plans to enhance security. Spitzer withdrew the plan two weeks later.

[Source: The New York Times, Oct. 31, 2007]

Fact: During the Democratic presidential debate held in Las Vegas in November 2007, moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Obama if he supported driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Obama answered: "Yes."

[Source: Debate transcript, Nov. 15, 2007, Las Vegas]

Fact: Obama also addressed the licensing of illegals during the October 2007 debate. Asked if he favored Spitzer's plan, Obama replied: "I think that it is the right idea. And I disagree with [Sen.] Chris [Dodd], because there is a public safety concern. We can make sure that drivers who are illegal come out of the shadows, that they can be tracked, that they are properly trained, and that will make our roads safer. That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration."

[Source: Debate transcript, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 30, 2007]

Fact: The 19 terrorists involved in 9/11 obtained 13 driver's licenses, as well as 21 federal or state-issued ID cards. Eight of the 9/11 terrorists were registered to vote.

[Source: Wall Street Journal column by John Fund, Nov. 2, 2007]

Fact: The day Gov. Spitzer withdrew his driver's license plan, Clinton released this statement: "I support Governor Spitzer's decision today to withdraw his proposal. His difficult job is made that much harder by the failure of the Congress and the White House to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

"As president, I will not support driver's licenses for undocumented people, and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration including border security and fixing our broken system."

[Source: Hillary Clinton statement dated Nov. 14, 2007]

Fact: A full 77 percent of American adults oppose granting driver's licenses to people who are in the United States illegally.

[Source: Rasmussen Reports, national telephone survey, November 2007]

Fact: There are 203 million licensed drivers in America, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Approximately 1 in 5 fatal car accidents involves a driver who, for whatever reason, does not have a valid driver's license.

[Source: "Outrageous! Cracking Down on Illegal Drivers"
by Michael Crowley, Readers Digest, September 2008]

Fact: Sen. John McCain's online policy statements do not specifically address driver's licenses for illegals. McCain is on record, however, opposing any benefits for those who "have come here illegally and broke our laws."

In one speech he pledged, "It would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration."

[Source: Feb. 7, 2008 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC]

Fact: In February, Obama told ABC's David Muir, "If [McCain] wants to try to parse out this one issue of driver's licenses, an issue of public safety, my response is that we have to solve the overall problem and this driver's license issue is a distraction."

[Source: "Obama Defends Illegals' Driver's Licenses," ABC.com]

Fact: When he served as a member of the Illinois state Senate, Obama voted to train, insure, and license illegals to operate motor vehicles in order to "protect public safety."

 [Source: Debate transcript, Nov. 15, 2007, Las Vegas]


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