- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore asked Gov. Mark Warner yesterday to sign legislation passed by the General Assembly that would crack down on the activities of illegal aliens.
In the 2003 General Assembly, which ended Feb. 22, lawmakers passed a bill requiring illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities. They passed another requiring foreign nationals applying for Virginia driver's licenses to prove they were in the United States legally.
Mr. Warner, a Democrat, has until April 2 to sign, veto or amend the legislation, though he has said he wants more time to study the issues.
Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, said the license bill is about fairness and safety.
"It makes no sense to validate illegal behavior by giving out this essential form of identification," he said. "A driver's license is a passport to all sorts of places and behaviors including, of course, boarding an airplane."
The driver's license bill passed the House in a 86-12 vote and the Senate in a 30-8 vote. If Mr. Warner approves it, a foreign national applying for a new license after Jan. 1 would have to present a valid document such as a visa or green card. The license would be valid only for the length of time the person is in the United States legally.
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, joined Mr. Kilgore in calling for the state law. He also plans to introduce similar legislation in the U.S. House.
"A state-issued license becomes a veil of legitimacy for terrorists to gain access to planes," Mr. Cantor said. "The General Assembly did its work; now the governor must act and sign this bill into law."
Mr. Warner, though, has said he questions the significance of a license.
"The bigger question that needs to be asked is what is a driver's license," Mr. Warner told The Washington Times last month. "Is it an indication of legal status or is it an identity card? Are we willing to give up biometric information? Are we willing to give up a thumbprint or an eye scan on driver's licenses?"
The bill requiring illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tution at Virginia colleges and universities passed the House in a 88-10 vote and the Senate in a 27-13 vote.
"While we recognize that immigration is largely a federal issue, it was our advice that … schools should not be admitting illegal aliens in the first place," Mr. Kilgore said. "If they do choose to admit them, it was our advice to them that illegal aliens are already ineligible for in-state tuition because they are unable to satisfy our requirements to establish legal residency."
Mr. Kilgore's office issued a policy brief in September stating that illegal aliens should not be charged in-state tuition rates. The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Thelma Drake, Norfolk Republican, would codify into Virginia law the attorney general's opinion.
The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is often substantial. For example, a three-credit class at Virginia Tech is $480.24 for residents but $1,682.49 for out-of-state residents. The Northern Virginia Community College system charges residents $169.69 to take a three-credit class but charges others $607.41.
"To suggest that we should look the other way for certain illegal aliens is an insult to the many millions of people who have gone through the process and done the right thing," Mr. Kilgore said. "It is a slap in the face to legal immigrants to tell them that they were foolish to follow our laws."
Ellen Qualls, press secretary for Mr. Warner, said the governor is reviewing staff recommendations and that he has concerns about treating some students unfairly through no fault of their own.
"Obviously there is a fairness issue there that illegal aliens should not be given special breaks," said Miss Qualls said. "But something we are trying to weigh is that some of these [students] may have come here as children and did not have a say."

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