- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

It is against the law to deny an illegal alien a driver’s license, says the executive director of an immigration-rights advocacy group in Maryland, presumably with a straight face and without the help of a laugh track.

The advocacy group obviously picks which laws to embrace. An illegal alien is an illegal alien, after all.

Given the potential usefulness of this upside-down appeal, an advocacy group for pickpockets is perhaps an idea whose time is nearing. If so, in these enlightened times, the group undoubtedly would seek assault charges against anyone who might clamp down on the wrist of the wallet-seeking pickpocket.

The thinking in Maryland is incredibly obtuse, this feeling the pain of those who enter the country illegally.

The thinking is certainly not fair to those who enter the country legally. Why did they bother to follow laws that America is reluctant to enforce?

There is a right way and a wrong way to settle in America, and the advocacy group has chosen to put its muscle behind the wrong way.

The group has taken to holding protests at the offices of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), because the group contends that this government agency has no right to ask anyone for a Social Security number.

Well, to be fair, the advocacy group does not object to MVA employees’ requesting the Social Security number of an American. A Social Security number is a fairly basic form of identity. The request of one is not likely to cause looks of panic or a clearing of the throat for most Americans.

The absence of a Social Security number is a red flag, no doubt, a problem that extends beyond the securing of a driver’s license.

The advocacy group should try its protest trick with a lending institution that refuses to lend money to an illegal alien who lacks a Social Security number, the key that opens the door to a credit check.

Give Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan credit. He, too, wants to be sensitive to the feelings of illegal aliens.

He says his agency is not targeting specific groups and that requesting a Social Security number is merely part of the process.

His language is clinical enough that no illegal alien should be offended, excluding the easily offended.

“The MVA has absolutely no right to ask for people’s Social Security number or immigration status to get a driver’s license,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland Inc., told S.A. Miller, a reporter for The Washington Times.

Mr. Torres does not indicate what the motor vehicle agency should be permitted to do to confirm the identity of someone, illegal or not. Perhaps MVA employees should be limited to taking the word of those seeking driver’s licenses.

That is undoubtedly how it works in Latin America, where the various governments are all too eager to welcome the unwashed masses of the United States and then award each with a driver’s license, health benefits and tuition vouchers. The latter is intended to be a laugh.

The Maryland advocacy group is not laughing.

The group expects the MVA to be a whole lot more sensitive to the needs of illegal aliens. As the group sees it, it is against the law to deny a driver’s license to a person who has broken the law.

MVA employees must transcend the illegality of an illegal alien and see the person’s humanity. They must accept the name of the person, as the person claims it to be, and award a driver’s license to the person before wishing the person a great day in Spanish and English, although preferably in Spanish.

To be extra nice, MVA employees probably should waive the driver’s license fee. Consider it Maryland’s gesture to illegal aliens.

The bureaucrats of Maryland never would want to be accused of targeting illegal aliens.

The thought is enough to make us all shudder.

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