- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

In what has become an annual ritual in Maryland, Delegate Herbert McMillan, Anne Arundel County Republican, is trying to change the state’s current policy of permitting illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Thirty of the 141 members of the House of Delegates have co-sponsored H.B. 1214, Mr. McMillan’s common-sense bill which would bar the state Motor Vehicle Administration from issuing a new driver’s license to someone who cannot document that they are legally in the United States.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from several relatives of persons killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks urging them to support the McMillan bill. One was Joan Molinaro, whose son Carl was one of the 343 firefighters who died that day. She noted that September 11 hijackers were able to use driver’s licenses to board the planes, and that Americans continue to use them to open bank accounts, enter federal buildings and board airplanes.

Bruce DeCell, whose son in law, a commodities broker at Carr Future’s, was killed in the attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center, implored Judiciary Committee members to close the loophole in Maryland law. “By permitting illegal aliens a driver’s license to drive to work, you are putting all law-abiding citizens at risk,” Mr. DeCell told lawmakers. “The fact of the matter is that a driver’s license is a golden key to a terrorist, and anyone who cannot prove who they are and why they are here could be a terrorist as easily as an ordinary day laborer.”

The Judiciary Committee chairman, Delegate Joseph Vallario, Prince George’s Democrat, has been one of the legislature’s strongest advocates of permitting illegals to obtain licenses. Yet some Democrats on the panel may be reconsidering their previous opposition to Mr. McMillan’s bill.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the matter of illegal immigrants and driver’s licenses in Maryland post-September 11, common sense gets tossed out the window. In the fall of 2003, Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran issued an advisory opinion declaring that the MVA “may not deny a license to an individual because he or she is unable to prove lawful presence in this country.” This put Anne Ferro, then administrator of the MVA, in the surreal position of publicly pleading that her agency was not turning away illegals. So, last year, Mr. McMillan tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Judiciary Committee to bar illegal immigrants from obtaining Maryland driver’s licenses. He then offered a floor amendment to a bill on driver’s licenses for carriers of hazardous materials, which lost by a 95-42 vote.

Virginia, where seven of the 19 hijackers obtained their licenses, now bars illegals from getting them. This means that, if Maryland law is not changed, and illegals are permitted to continue to obtain driver’s licenses in the state, the next group of terrorists looking to get bogus IDs will likely be coming to Baltimore or Gaithersburg. We urge Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who has not taken a position on the matter, to support H.B. 1214.

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