Governor Eliot Spitzer has pulled the plug on his unpopular plan to give illegal immigrants a license to drive. In Washington Wednesday, Spitzer says overwhelming opposition lead him to abandon the plan. Spitzer has said the plan would allow the State to keep tabs on illegal immigrants. He criticized the federal government for losing control of the borders, leaving states with no solution to deal it.
"I continue to believe that my proposal would have improved an unsatisfactory situation. But I have listened to the legitimate concerns of the public and those who would be affected by my proposal, and have concluded that pushing forward unilaterally in the face of such strong opposition would be counterproductive," said Spitzer.
"Today is the day the people of Monroe County were heard loud and clear," said Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Clerk.
When Spitzer first announced he wanted to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Dinolfo spoke out against his plan. She testified at Senate and Assembly hearings and even filed a lawsuit.
"This never should've come to pass, there is no reason Albany should've even considered sanctioning illegal behavior and there is no reason why persons who are here illegally should've been granted the same privileges as those who obey the law," said Dinolfo.
Spitzer's policy would've allowed as many as one million illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses in New York State without a social security number. This sparked a roar of opposition not only from Republicans, but from the public as well. According to a State poll, more than 70% of New Yorkers were...
"...totally against it. The key word in the whole plan was illegal, either they're legal in this country legally and they can get licenses or they don't have the rights of citizens," said Howard Kravetz, who opposes the plan.
But of course, there's the 30% who are now disappointed with Spitzer's announcement.
"We have agricultural workers here and other people who contribute to our economy in significant ways and we need to have a way to have their driving legitimate. It's a fact of life, the buses don't go everywhere, these people are honest workers why shouldn't they have some legitimate way?" said Jamie Whitbeck, who supports the plan.
Dinolfo says the lawsuit she filed will most likely be dropped. She's waiting for a statement from the State DMV that says Spitzer is withdrawing the policy for good.
"I am withdrawing my proposal," said Spitzer.
This comes one day after a poll taken by the Siena Research Institute revealed Governor Eliot Spitzer's approval rating dropped dramatically since he took office in January. That's no surprise to local political analyst Curt Smith.
"He's a laughing stock today. He's almost become a cancer on the Democratic Party and he was faced with enormous political pressure, drop it, drop it, get out, get away from it now because it's radioactive, politics that's the reason he said no mas," said Smith.
During Wednesday's announcement in Washington D.C., Spitzer cited several reasons for his withdrawal.
"The legislative process and any number of mounting obstacles would have prevented us from moving forward," said Spitzer.
But Smith says it was political pressure from the Democratic Party that did him in.
"They are the ones who have been truly feeling the heat, so finally Eliot Spitzer politically saw the light. Hillary Clinton's political campaign has been severely wounded by this," said Smith.
Despite mounting opposition, Spitzer defended his policy to the end, blaming partisan politics for its failure.
"Political opponents equaled minimum-wage, undocumented dishwashers with Osama Bin Laden. Newspaper headlines equated a driver's license plan for an undocumented migrant laborers with a “passport to terror” and a “license to kill," said Spitzer.
"For him to suggest that people who wish to enforce the law are somehow to use his vernacular racist or bigots or xenophobes or fascist is a pathetic commentary on the hollow vessel that Eliot Spitzer is," said Smith.
Smith says the only way Spitzer can save his job is to never speak of his driver's license policy again.