- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2007

New outrages in recent days serve to highlight the fact that Maryland has become an increasingly welcoming place for illegal aliens — with taxpayers footing the bill — and is likely to become even more so in the brave new world of one-party liberalism. According to Prince George’s County Police, Never Leopoldo Navarro-Montoya, an illegal alien from Mexico carrying fake Social Security and permanent residency cards, was the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into an SUV early May 5, killing Matthew Watson, 20, a University of Maryland student. On Monday, Jerry Seper of The Washington Times reported that CASA of Maryland Inc. — the state’s leading advocacy group on behalf of illegals — is distributing guidebooks instructing people targeted by federal immigration agents during job-site raids not to cooperate with authorities if they are detained or arrested. The book features cartoon-like drawings of armed black and white police officers escorting Hispanic men in handcuffs and shows babies crying because their fathers are incarcerated.

Most of CASA’s $2.78 million in revenue in the year ending June 30, 2005, came from government fees and contracts. The organization received funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Maryland; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; and the cities of Takoma Park and Baltimore. Even with an estimated $1.5 billion state deficit and the prospect of tax increases staring Marylanders in the face, don’t expect CASA to be short of money: The group has plenty of powerful friends in the Maryland General Assembly. Major Democratic figures — including House Speaker Michael Busch, Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett — use their political muscle on CASA’s behalf. CASA also uses tax dollars for day-labor sites and makes no distinction between immigrants and illegal aliens. CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres served on Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial transition team. Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Mr. O’Malley, said in December that Mr. Torres was appointed partly to be a voice for the legal and illegal immigrant communities.

With politicians putting out the welcome mat, it comes as no surprise that the number of illegals in Maryland is growing. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were an estimated 120,000 illegals in the Maryland in 2000. The number increased to 225,000-275,000 in 2006. CASA is doing its level best to attract more of them to Maryland by taking a leadership role in mobilizing support for in-state tuition for illegal aliens and lobbying against legislation that would deny them driver’s licenses.

On the question of ensuring that illegals retain access to Maryland driver’s licenses, CASA has few friends more powerful than Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat who serves as chairman of the legislative panel that reviews state regulations. In October, then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, noting that the state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) had experienced a dramatic increase in fraudulent applications for Maryland licenses, wrote Mr. Pinsky urging him to hold a hearing on the subject. Mr. Pinsky rejected Mr. Ehrlich’s request to hold a hearing before the November election, and, joined by CASA’s Mr. Torres and the O’Malley campaign, suggested that by raising the issue that Mr. Ehrlich was engaged in immigrant-bashing for political gain. Mr. Pinsky helpfully added that members were too busy campaigning to reconvene for a hearing on driver’s-license fraud.

Mr. Ehrlich pointed out that that an MVA internal study, first reported in this newspaper, revealed a 233 percent increase from 2003 to 2005 in the number of false claims of Maryland residency or attempts to obtain new identities when applying for licenses. “It is clear that Maryland is becoming a magnet for illegal immigrants living on the East Coast who are using fraud to prove legal residence in the state,” the Republican governor wrote in his letter to Mr. Pinsky. Unfortunately, Mr. Ehrlich’s concerns were ignored by the Democratic Party majority bloc — just as the General Assembly and the current governor have scandalously failed in their responsibility to bring the state’s requirements for issuing driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal Real ID act (Maryland is one of the few states in the country which do not require applicants to prove they are legal immigrants before seeking a driver’s license).

That brings us back to the story of Mr. Navarro-Montoya, who has been charged with driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated, among other things. CASA and its allied politicians will mount a superb spin campaign to drive home the point that his alleged drunk driving has nothing to do with his unlawful presence in this country. We disagree, of course. Mr. Navarro-Montoya’s broke the law by entering America illegally, and there’s the question of the forged documents that were in his possession — and those law-and-order issues are pre-eminent. After all, because he is an illegal alien, who can say that he is, in fact, Never Leopoldo Navarro-Montoya?

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