- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2004

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore and Rep. Eric I. Cantor yesterday asked Congress to pass legislation that would require motorists to prove they are legally in the country before they obtain a driver’s license.

Mr. Cantor and Mr. Kilgore, both Republicans, urged Congress to approve a bill that would create a federal minimum standard for getting licenses. Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature enacted a similar law in 2003.

The legislation is part of the House 9/11 Commission Report Implementation Act.

“We don’t want terrorists to have another tool in their arsenal to work their way through our open society here to kill innocent Americans,” Mr. Cantor said. “If you are not in this country legally, you cannot get a license. It’s prudent from a security standpoint.”

Seven of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 terrorist attacks had obtained their driver’s licenses in Virginia, prompting the state legislature last year to require that motorists prove their legal residency before getting a license.

The Virginia law was part of Mr. Kilgore’s legislative agenda.

“We know that in the past illegal immigrants have had an easy time getting fraudulent driver’s licenses or identification cards,” Mr. Kilgore said at a press conference with Mr. Cantor in Richmond.

Mr. Cantor, a member of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, helped draft the legislation that would establish the same requirement for driver’s licenses nationwide.

If the legislation passes, aliens would have to provide proof they are legally in the country by showing their visa or other documents.

The legislation also would tie expiration dates of newly issued licenses to the expiration date of a person’s immigration documents.

The 9/11 Commission Report Implementation Act is up for a vote in the House next week. Its chances in the Senate before Congress breaks are not clear, but if it passes the Senate, it could be on President Bush’s desk before the November election.

Under the legislation, each state must have a standard set of information on new licenses and must have security features built in to the licensing cards to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication and a strip that can be read by scanning machines.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia yesterday said there is no “conclusive” study that proves a universal identification card would bolster security and “there is ample evidence that it would erode personal privacy.”

If it becomes law, states’ motor-vehicles agencies will have three years to implement the changes and notify motorists of the new requirements.

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