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SIMMONS: Illegal immigrant ID idea proves stupidity begins at home

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Every now and again, stupidity begets stupidity.

The elected leaders of the District are proving they aren't interested in statehood but some bizarre form of sovereignty.

As Americans try to recover from the shock and awe of the Boston bombings, and lawmakers and law enforcement officers ponder how best to keep us safer, the D.C. Council is considering legislation that would turn the nation's capital into America's "sanctuary capital."

Already a sanctuary city, D.C. officials want to hand out government ID cards, including driver's permits, to illegal immigrants.

The Non-Driver's Identification Card/Driver's License Amendment Act of 2013 would loosen restrictions on the issuance of driver's licenses and non-driver's IDs. The latter are routinely given to senior citizens and disabled residents who do not operate vehicles. They also are given to substance abusers and people who live elsewhere so they can qualify for social service programs, such as housing, food and health care.

As if that weren't enough, the legislation piggybacks on an executive fiat at the hands of the mayor that already exempts city police from inquiring about an individual's immigration status.

This is the kind of stupidity that fires up Leo Alexander, a former TV newsman who challenged Vincent C. Gray in the 2010 mayor's race.

Mr. Alexander says relaxed immigration laws and lax enforcement are leading causes of high black unemployment rates in the District and elsewhere, and he and other blacks took a stand Wednesday against the U.S. immigration reform measure being mulled on Capitol Hill because "nobody asked the question."

"Nobody asked the important question about how the immigration bill would impact blacks," said Mr. Alexander, a member of the African American Leadership Council, which held a news conference Wednesday.

The council - a coalition of clergy, media personalities and others, including the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson - issued an acute message to the Congressional Black Caucus, demanding that lawmakers acknowledge the “devastating impact” a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants would have on the black Americans.

"With unemployment at 7.6 percent, this is preposterous," talk radio host Charles Butler said. "I think most everyone can agree on the need to support working- and middle-class citizens during a depressed economy. This bill would provide green cards and residency benefits to illegal aliens when many Americans are hurting the most. What makes sense is for America's jobs to be reserved for people who are legally entitled to compete for them."

His comments are at once insightful and inciteful.

While we really and truly do not know how many illegal immigrants are in America, the figure 11 million pours out of all manner of immigration memes.

Meanwhile, an estimated 25,000 are suspected of calling D.C. home, and the city's unemployment rate stood at a frightful 8.6 percent in February.

Mr. Alexander blamed Democrats and Republicans for quietly disallowing the issue of race to enter the immigration debate.

"Liberal blacks don't even want to talk about [race]," he said, while Republicans want to give blacks "a better life" with government handouts.

So what’s the next step for Mr. Alexander, an individual-rights advocate and former reporter for WRC-TV (Channel 4)?

He's going to keep battling, but "I'm moving back to Mobile, Ala."

"D.C. is stuck in neutral because there's no leadership in the black community and race dictates everything," he said.

The old South is new again, while D.C. is stuck.

That's a pretty good take considering the District's don't ask-don't tell immigration policy and the message sent by 83 percent of voters Tuesday at the polls: Free D.C.'s budget.

When you look at the other numbers that matter, voters look as if they don't know what they want.

Indeed, the District has more than 505,600 registered voters, but only an estimated 49,800 bothered to cast ballots.

The winner in for the at-large seat on the D.C. Council, Democrat Anita Bonds, said Wednesday morning that the city is going to be "more assertive than ever" in a fight for statehood.

There is no fight — D.C. voters defeat their own purposes with paltry voter turnouts and downright stupidity.

 Deborah Simmons can be reached at

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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