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DHS reviewing states giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens

DHS and TSA work with Amtrak and law enforcement partners. (Barry Bahler/Department of Homeland Security)
January 02, 2020

Chad Wolfe, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called for new scrutiny of states that permit immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses without proof of citizenship.

Wolfe has tasked all components of DHS, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to review state laws that permit driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, CBS News reported. Those various agencies will determine how those state laws that permit driver’s licenses for illegal aliens would affect things like immigration law enforcement and investigations into human and drug trafficking and counterterrorism missions.

“Accordingly, I am instructing each operational component to conduct an assessment of the impact of these laws, so that the Department is prepared to deal with and counter these impacts as we protect the homeland,” Wolf said in a memo, obtained by the Daily Caller.

New York and New Jersey are just two of the states included in the review. New York’s driver’s license law went into effect in December, making it the 13th state to permit licenses for illegal aliens. New Jersey lawmakers also passed similar legislation in December.

The new laws also prohibit state driver’s licensing agencies from providing access to federal immigration law enforcement agencies and New York reportedly revoked access to its database for at least three federal agencies last week.

Wolf has asked those DHS component agencies to determine what DMV information remains available, how agents use that information in daily tasks and what potential consequences would come from loss of access to licensing databases.

In addition, those agencies are also advised to seek solutions for whatever security consequences may come as a result of state laws.

DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift also said laws like the ones recently enacted in New York make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents, while simultaneously making it harder for the DHS to access valuable records used to stop human trafficking rings, drug smugglers and terrorists.

“Never before in our history have we seen politicians make such rash and dangerous decisions to end all communication and cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security law enforcement,” Swift said. “The Secretary is prepared to take every measure necessary to ensure the safety and security of the homeland and we look forward to the recommendations of our agents and officers in the field.”

By contrast, proponents of the New York law claim it will improve traffic safety as licensed drivers have to prove their ability behind the wheel of a car and a licensed driver can also obtain vehicle insurance. They have also suggested the laws would help improve work opportunities for those new drivers, by allowing them to travel further to work.

The New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute claimed in a report that the licensing program would pay for itself in new licensing revenue and lower state insurance rates by as much as $17 a year.

The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates as many as 265,000 previously unlicensed illegal immigrants would become licensed within three years of the law’s implementation.